The Walt Disney Co raised its offer to buy assets from 21st Century Fox to $38 per share in cash and stock, topping Comcast’s $35 a share bid—although Comcast’s offer is all cash.
The move is the latest in an emerging bidding war for assets amassed by Fox chief Rupert Murdoch that include cable network and TV and movie studios. It came before 21st Century Fox’s board was set to meet to consider the Comcast offer.
The bidding war was ignited by AT&T win in Federal Court over the Justice Department , which was trying to prevent it from buying Time Warner. The decision was seen as clearing the way for a wave of merger and acquisition activity in the media business.
Fox said the new offer has been made part of amended merger agreement.
"We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry," said Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox. "We remain convinced that the combination of 21CF's iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney's will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world."
Fox last year chose Disney’s first bid above an offer from Comcast, even though Comcast claimed its bid was worth 19% more than Disney’s. Murdoch was said to have preferred to hold Disney stock to Comcast’s. Before selling the assets, Fox will spin off its broadcast network, Fox News Channel and its sports businesses into an entity being called New Fox.
“The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies, and after six months of integration planning we’re even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “At a time of dynamic change in the entertainment industry, the combination of Disney’s and Fox’s unparalleled collection of businesses and franchises will allow us to create more appealing high-quality content, expand our direct-to-consumer offerings and international presence, and deliver more personalized and compelling entertainment experiences to meet growing consumer demand around the world.”