Disney Gets Government Approval to Purchase Fox Assets, Comcast Still Fighting

Disney Gets Government Approval to Purchase Fox Assets, Comcast Still Fighting

posted Sunday Jul 1, 2018 by Scott Ertz

Disney Gets Government Approval to Purchase Fox Assets, Comcast Still Fighting

What happens when two different companies, both bent on owning everything, bid on the same company? You end up with the epic three-way that is Fox-Disney-Comcast. It all started when Disney bid to purchase Twentieth-Century Fox. Their bid, which was the only one, was $52.4 billion, which seemed like a clear decision for Fox.

Once Disney got involved in this process, Comcast decided that they couldn't let that happen. Owning NBCUniversal wasn't enough for them, so they added a bid for $65 billion; more than 20% more than Disney had bid. Not to be outdone, Disney came back with a new bid for $71.3 billion, raising the bid by 10% over Comcast's and over 30% more than their original bid.

This week, some interesting new moves happened. First, the biggest hurdle in the acquisition attempt was cleared: the Department of Justice approved the merger, though it's not going to sound like it. The DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the purchase unless certain conditions are met. The only real requirement the government has for Disney is that they divest their newfound interest in the former Fox regional sports networks. According to DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim,

American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher. Today's settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution.

With this approval, Fox has reason to reject any future bids from Comcast, which is something the company wants to do. They believe that there is little to no chance that the government will approve the purchase if they go with Comcast because Comcast already owns a lot of content production. Owning the pipes and the content is something that scares a lot of people, and getting that approval would be a lot harder than the already acquired Disney approval. So, it appears likely that Disney will be the new owner of the Twentieth-Century Fox assets very quickly.

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