According to sources close to the matter, if the U.S. government approves AT&T‘s acquisition of Time Warner, then Comcast will place an all-cash bid of $60 billion to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox. This would top Disney‘s bid of $52 billion that was highly publicized last year. Comcast also plans to make another all-cash bid acquire all of British satellite provider Sky. They have already advised investment banks to elevate their bid for Sky to $60 billion to match the Fox bid. (To put it in stupid terms, basically they upped their eBay maximum bid.) Of course, even after Comcast makes its offer to buy Fox, Disney could counter offer with a higher sum and as these same sources predict, Comcast could wind up coughing up $100 billion for both Fox and Sky.
However, Comcast’s plans are hinged on whether or not AT&T is allowed by the government to acquire Time Warner. If that plan is shot down, then Comcast will not attempt to buy Twenty-First Century Fox.
Comcast has courted Twenty-First Century Fox in the past, but that was based more on an exchange of stocks. Because Comcast stock has dipped, they have shifted to all-cash buyouts. An all-cash bid is more enticing. Disney’s offer is stock-based, but should Fox be acquired, Fox stock will plummet, weakening the value of the deal.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanaugh explained:
“Regarding potential acquisitions, it is our job to continuously evaluate whether there are opportunities for us to create value. But should we pursue anything while our stock is at these levels, while circumstances can always change, I think it is unlikely that we would use Comcast shares as a medium of exchange for a transaction.”
Now that the economics lesson is over, what does all this mean to fans? The biggest buzz over the potential Disney acquisition of Fox is that they would be gaining the movie rights to two major Marvel properties, the X-Men and Fantastic Four. These properties were licensed to Fox in the ’90s-2000s, when Marvel Comics was on the verge of bankruptcy and before the formation of Marvel Studios, which was then acquired by Disney. So long as Fox continues to release movies based on these properties (which include the blockbuster ‘Deadpool’ and more), they are entitled to keep the rights.
Now, if Comcast buys Fox, fans can kiss the thought of seeing Wolverine and Captain America together on the big screen.
All of these big ticket corporate acquisitions have been made possible by a huge tax break that was approved last year, allowing U.S. companies to bring in money they had housed overseas back into the country with minimal taxes due to the government.
Well… guess fans may have to go back to wondering “What If…?” when it comes to a complete Marvel Cinematic Universe.