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Comcast Extracts Offer for Fox Assets, Ending Bidding War with Disney



Cable and broadband giant Comcast said Thursday that it would give up its bid to take over much of 21st Century Fox, but would continue to seek control of British satellite broadcaster Sky Rupert Murdoch's media company [19659002] In a statement, Comcast said it "did not intend to pursue the acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox's assets and instead focus on our recommended offering for Sky."

Comcast had been imprisoned in a fight with the Walt Disney Company for most of Mr. Murdoch's Fox Empire, with the cable company submitting a $ 65 billion bid on assets last month. But Comcast's offer was withdrawn by Disney with a higher bid of $ 71

.3 billion, which Murdoch and his board quickly accepted. The shareholders of Disney and Fox will vote on July 27 for the proposed merger.

Just a few weeks ago, the cable giant had begun to stray from a Fox deal to gain control of Sky, one of Europe's most sought-after media companies with more than 23 million customers in five countries. Comcast was initially attracted primarily by Fox for its international holdings, which include a 39 percent stake in the satellite TV service. Now Comcast and Fox are bidding for the other 61 percent of the company.

Comcast, the Philadelphia-based corporation, is bidding for Sky and has outperformed Fox's recent bid with an offer that valued the broadcaster at $ 34 billion, or £ 26 billion. Sky's independent board had already recommended Comcast's new terms.

Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast, praised Mr. Murdoch and Disney CEO Robert A. Iger on their deal. "I want to congratulate Bob Iger and the Disney team and thank the Murdoch and Fox family for making such a desirable and respected business," he said in a statement.

The note was a friendly signal in what had become a contentious showdown on two continents, comprising two separate transactions worth more than $ 100 billion. Mr. Robert's statement may also have been a way to send a bigger scenario to Disney: They get Fox, I get Sky. Of course, Mr Iger also wants Sky and his international reach after calling the station a "crown jewel".

Neither Disney nor Fox immediately responded to requests for comments.

If Disney and Fox approve the merger, the combined company would own movie studios that account for nearly 50 percent of North American box office this year. It would also own 60 percent of the streaming provider Hulu, which has over 20 million customers. The new Disney Fox company would also retain a 39 percent stake in Sky.

If Comcast succeeds in gaining control of Sky, another possibility could arise, so two people who are familiar with both companies are not allowed to speak publicly. The cable giant owns a 30 percent stake in Hulu, which it could sell to Disney, giving it 90 percent of the streaming service. Disney, in turn, could sell Sky's 39% stake to Comcast.


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