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Fox Shareholders to Cast Vote on July 27 Over Disney Merger

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The race is still on for big companies to merge and acquire other companies, and the bidding war over Fox assets is no exception. Time is running short for Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts.

Bloomberg reports that Roberts must make a move soon now that 21st Century Fox Inc. to vote on Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion offer for its entertainment assets. Fox’s special shareholder meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on July 27 at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, Disney said in a regulatory filing, which also said that its shareholders will also consider the transaction.

Disney won antitrust approval for its deal from the U.S. Department of Justice last Wednesday, which makes matters more difficult for competing Comcast, also interested in the assets. The Fox board last week accepted Disney’s sweetened bid for a trove of media properties ranging from “The Simpsons” to “X-Men,” favoring its offer over Comcast’s interest for a second time, Bloomberg reports. Fox’s controlling shareholders, Rupert Murdoch and his family, can only vote their 17 percent economic interest in a takeover vote because Class A and B shareholders each have the same voting power, Bloomberg went on to explain.

Back in December, Fox decided it wanted to offload assets. They wanted to work with Disney in a $52.4 billion transaction, well before setting off what would become a very important Supreme Court ruling. The move was done in order to overlook Comcast’s interest mainly because of concerns the cable television company would have greater difficulty obtaining regulatory approval, Bloomberg describes. Comcast countered with a $65 billion, all-cash offer this month before Disney sweetened its proposal to include cash and stock, Bloomberg reported.

The strength of Disney’s currency and its smoother regulatory path make it “relatively easy” for Fox’s board to prefer a Disney bid “without risking compromise of their fiduciary obligation to shareholders,” analysts at Moffett Nathanson said last week. “A Comcast bid for Fox carries far more regulatory risk than does a bid from Disney,” they said.

Roberts has said he expects the Justice Department to review his proposed takeover plan at the same speed at which it ruled on Disney’s deal. Comcast thinks that its lesser presence outside the country should help the company gain international clearance easily. It also shouldn’t need a review by the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast has said.

Comcast rose 1.2 percent to $33.01 as of 10:39 a.m. in New York. Fox shares slipped as much as 0.6 percent, and Disney advanced as much as 0.7 percent, according to latest figures sourced by Bloomberg.

By: Mat Vitucci

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