Comcast admits defeat in bidding war for Fox, clearing path for Disney

Comcast is abandoning its attempt to purchase 21st Century Fox properties, the cable company announced today.

“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the 21st Century Fox assets,” Comcast said in a statement.

That doesn’t mean Comcast is done trying to buy media properties, however. Comcast’s statement said that it will focus on its attempt to purchase Sky, a British media and pay-TV company.

Comcast last week raised its bid for Sky, topping a previous offer made by 21st Century Fox.

Comcast’s attempt to buy Fox properties was facing increasingly long odds. Comcast outbid the Walt Disney Company on June 13 with a $65 billion offer, but Disney quickly raised its offer to $71.3 billion and signed a new merger deal with Fox. Fox made it clear that it preferred to sell to Disney, arguing that a Disney/Fox deal had a better chance of receiving US government approval than a Comcast/Fox one.

Comcast’s chances of buying Fox got even worse on June 27 when the Department of Justice gave its approval to the Disney/Fox deal. With Comcast now abandoning any further attempt to outbid Disney, Disney and Fox will likely be able to complete a merger.

The Fox/Disney deal will give Disney a controlling stake in Hulu as well as 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, cable entertainment networks, and international properties including Star in India and Fox’s 39-percent ownership of Sky. The DOJ’s approval of the Fox/Disney deal requires Disney to divest Fox-owned regional sports networks.

The Fox sale does not include major assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Broadcasting Company. Those would be spun off into a new company, and Disney would acquire 21st Century Fox after the spinoff.

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