Antitrust Judge Approves AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Javier Stokes
June 15, 2018

The bid by Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, tops the $52.4 billion offer made by Disney for 21st Century Fox in December.

Comcast is making a $65 billion bid for much of 21st Century Fox's assets, setting up a potential bidding war with Disney over the company's entertainment offerings.

In recent weeks, Philadelphia-based Comcast confirmed its desire to outbid Disney in advance of shareholder votes set for July 10. Disney, which was already lining up financing, is widely expected to make an all-cash counter-offer.

Roberts said the all-cash bid was almost 20 percent richer than the $52 billion stock offer from Disney, and said Comcast would match the Disney offer of a $2.5 billion fee if the deal failed to win regulatory approval.

We are ... highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction.

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The deal focuses on the famed Fox Hollywood film and television studios, along with its cable entertainment networks and worldwide TV businesses. Fox will spin off the Fox Broadcasting network and local stations, Fox News, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a new company, called New Fox.

Roberts said Murdoch had built "one of the world's great media and entertainment companies", and that its history was similar to that of Comcast's. Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled that AT&T can merge with Time Warner.

"Our proposal represents a premium of approximately 19 percent to the value of Disney's offer as of noon today".

Fox's board had rejected a bid from Comcast past year in part due to concerns over regulatory approval. "This is a golden offer that will put considerable pressure on (Disney CEO Bob) Iger and Disney to step up their game on another bid", GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives said. The nation's largest cable TV firm has been waiting for a ruling on the AT&T-Time Warner merger before announcing a formal bid for Fox. It has been reported though that Fox execs are still leaning towards Disney and have asked their shareholders to do the same. In a statement, Fox said it would "carefully review" the "unsolicited" offer. CNN is a unit of Time Warner. Like Disney, Comcast is willing to divest Fox's regional sports networks if regulators demand it, according to company filings.

"Once technically driven volatility wears off we expect the stock to move higher as closure will likely provide a new investor catalyst including about $1.5 billion in anticipated cost synergies", Williams said.

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