Disney counters Comcast with $71.3bn offer for 21st Century Fox

Disney has raised its offer for 21 Century Fox to more than $71bn in a bid to trump rival Comcast in the battle to buy the entertainment behemoth.

The company has bumped its offer to $71.3bn (£54bn) from $52.4bn, surpassing Comcast’s $65bn all-cash offer of last week.

Disney has also moved from its original tactic of an all-stock deal for Fox, owner of assets including X-Men film studio 20 Century Fox, and a 39 per cent stake in Sky, to a 50-50 mix of cash and shares.

Fox, which backed Disney’s original bid, said that in the light of the new offer Comcast’s bid cannot be considered to result in a better deal for shareholders.

“We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21 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,” said executive chairman of Fox, Rupert Murdoch.

“We remain convinced that the combination of Fox’s iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney’s will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world.”

Disney said it expects to pay a total of about $35.7bn in cash and issue 343 million new shares to Fox shareholders, representing about a 19 per cnt stake in Disney.

“The acquisition of 21 Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies and after six month of integration planning, we’re even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox,” said Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney.

Following Comcast’s attempt to out bid Disney last week, w can expect that the US cable operator and media group won’t be going away. It also lodged a separate £22bn bid to buy all of Sky and under chief executive Brian Roberts, it is expected to respond with an improved offer as a bidding war looks to hot up over summer.

Fox said the company directors remain open to “evaluating a competing proposal.”

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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