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Comcast drops its bid for Fox

The move clears the way for Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox and its film and television assets

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This morning, Comcast announced it will no longer be in the mix to acquire 21st Century Fox and its film and television assets. Instead, the company will focus on the acquisition of the European satellite provider Sky. The decision is likely to clear the way for Disney, who recently upped its bid to $71.3 billion -- split between cash and stock.

“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets, and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the company said in a statement.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, said, “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”

Fox has currently set a shareholder meeting for July 27 to vote on the deal with Disney. If either Comcast or Fox’s acquisition of Sky has yet to be completed by that date, Disney would be forced to bid £14 a share for the 61 percent of Sky that Fox doesn’t own -- which is less than the £14.75 a share that Comcast offered last week.

History with Disney

Last December, Fox and Disney agreed to a $54.2 billion deal that would include control over many of Fox’s assets, including: the FX and Nat Geo cable channels, the 20th Century Fox film studio, and Fox’s stake in Hulu.

Then, just last month, Comcast came onto the scene with an “unsolicited” $65 billion offer.

That prompted Disney to raise its bid to $71.3 billion in late June. The new deal increases the value of Disney’s original offer from $28 a share at $52.4 billion to $38 a share at $71.3 billion -- plus a new cash component. At the time of the bid’s announcement, a Fox representative said the offer was “superior to the proposal” from Comcast.

Fox’s Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch said a Disney-Fox merger “will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world.”

“We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry,” Murdoch said.

Comcast and Sky

Now out of the bidding war for Fox, Comcast is looking to focus its efforts on acquiring Sky Network.

Early last month, 21st Century Fox was given the green light to proceed in negotiations for Sky Network, in an entirely different bidding war involving both Disney and Comcast. Initially, U.K. Culture Minister Matt Hancock was skeptical of the United Kingdom’s media losing its independence based on the Murdoch family’s influence. However, both Sky and Fox were pleased with the decision.

Comcast made a $29 million offer for the British broadcasting network, and acquiring the company would be a huge win. Sky currently has 23 million subscribers across five countries, and owns broadcasting rights that are particularly valuable in today’s market, such as English Premier League games, Formula One races, and other sporting events.

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