Sony Pictures, Comcast Put in Bids for 21st Century Fox’s Media Assets

Amidst the year’s frenzy of consolidations Rupert Murdoch seems to have expressed interest in selling some the entertainment assets at 21st Century Fox. Comcast Corp has stepped up to pursue purchasing Fox’s Los Angeles-based movie studio, sports networks, and cable channels. Comcast already owns NBC Universal, so buying Fox’s entertainment assets would turn it into a major player in entertainment. A deal with Comcast could work, as Fox definitely wants to keep its news channel, and Comcast already owns CNBC and MSNBC news channels.

A merger between Fox and Comcast, however, would undoubtedly invite scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, as they are already two of the largest media companies. In August 2016, Comcast also acquired DreamWorks Animation, in a $3.8-billion deal. Comcast, the Philadelphia based cable company, has about 25 million customers for its internet and television service, giving it the heavy duty funds which would be needed for a deal with Fox, which has an estimated market capitalization of $52 billion.

As reported by LA Times, earlier in the month, Disney was in talks to acquire parts of the Fox Company, but it seems the companies agreed to disagree on the price. Sony Corp., Japanese electronics giant, is reportedly also expressing interest in Fox’s assets for its film and television studio. Sony Pictures Entertainment would have an advantage in talks with Fox, as Sony studio’s new chairman, Tony Vinciquerra is a former Fox executive. Vinciquerra along with two others currently at Sony, formerly helped build Fox’s cable channel group and are familiar with the business. Other rumored bidders include Verizon and possibly Inc. According to reports from an unauthorized source, Fox has hired investment banking firms to field interest from the potential bidders.

Fox has not commented or conceded to any interest in breaking apart its media empire. Nonetheless, since talks of a sale emerged, Fox’s stock price is up 20 percent. On Friday, after news of an increase of interest from potential buyers, Fox’s shares rose another 5 percent, to around $30 a share. “It’s not a surprise why anyone would want the assets. It’s a surprise Fox would be listening.” said Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research. “Nobody would ever have thought that the Murdochs were interested in downsizing.”

Murdoch, 86, the Australian born media mogul, started out as a reporter and senior executive of the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper. He then created his own media company entitled News Corp, which is now the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, and has added on 21st Century Fox. Fox has a 39% stake in Sky, Europe’s 9-channel TV service.

By: Ilana Siyance



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