Comcast, Verizon have eye on Fox assets

Kelvin Reese
November 20, 2017

The telecommunications conglomerate may also be looking to buy Fox's movie studio, cable network, and regional sports network, CNBC reports.

Buyers have expressed interest in Fox's production studios, cable networks FX and National Geographic, and global assets such as the Star network in India and Sky Plc, sources told Reuters on Thursday. Verizon, the biggest USA wireless carrier, has some interest in the same collection of holdings, two of the people said.

"(I am) skeptical of a Verizon deal, creative businesses are very tough to manage for an outsider", Logsdon said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, while both Comcast and Verizon have approached 21st Century Fox, Sony Entertainment has only informally approached the company, indicating talks have yet to officially begin. Fox owns 39 percent of Sky and wants to buy the rest of it, but it has run into problems with United Kingdom regulators, in part over concerns about the sexual harassment scandals at Fox News. Fox would be left with its assets including its cable news outlets and broadcast channel, including local stations.

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"Either Disney or Comcast would be a good fit, but its always about price and neither has to be a strategic buyer, only opportunistic", said JBL Advisors analyst Jeffrey Logsdon.

During the Fox earnings call last week, co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch declined to comment on reports, citing the company's "longstanding policy of not commenting on speculation" about corporate dealings. A person close to the matter, who wouldn't speak publicly, said Verizon is not in active discussions with Fox, but that Verizon might be interested in some parts of Fox's business. Comcast, the country's largest cable company, finished buying NBCUniversal's cable channels and movie studio in 2013 and added Dreamworks Animation in 2016.

Last month, the regulators said they would assess Rupert Murdoch's influence on the country's political landscape as part of their investigation.

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