A Timeline of the Disney and Comcast Battle for 21st Century Fox
There’s been a lot in the news regarding the proposed purchase of 21st Century Fox between Disney and Comcast. We wanted to put together a timeline since the very beginning of what has happened so far which began back in November 2017.
November 6, 2017: CNBC reports that Disney is working with Rupert Murdoch to acquire much of 21st Century Fox and that such talks have “taken place over the last few weeks”.
November 16, 2017: It’s reported that Comcast and Verizon have approached 21st Century Fox for the same assets that Disney is after. No deal has been reached with any party, but Rupert Murdoch is “genuinely motivated to sell”.
December 5, 2017: Disney is seen as the favorite to purchase 21st Century Fox, with Disney valuing the company at $60 billion. More details of the assets included in the potential deal emerge with National Geographic, Star, Hulu, Sky, and the regional sports networks mentioned.
December 11, 2017: Comcast announces it has “abandoned its bid for most of the assets of Twenty-First Century Fox”, leaving Disney as the only major player for a deal.
December 14, 2017: The Walt Disney Company announces a $52.8 billion all-stock deal to purchase much of 21st Century Fox. In the deal Disney would acquire 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight, majority control (60%) of Hulu, the entire Fox movie library (i.e. the original Star Wars, Avatar, Deadpool, etc.), major tv franchises (i.e. The Simpsons, Modern Family, etc.), international media companies (i.e. Sky, Star India, etc.), FX, National Geographic Pictures, regional sports networks (i.e. YES Network, Fox Sports Florida, etc.), $13.7 billion of debt, and a contract extension for Bob Iger through 2021.
Fox would retain control of Fox broadcasting, Fox News, Fox Business News, FS1/FS2, and the Big Ten Network.
February 5, 2018: CNBC reports that Comcast might be back in the bidding war if AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner is approved by the federal government. Also, it’s reported that one of Murdoch’s main reasons for deciding to sell is the fear that tech companies would outbid Fox for sports broadcasting rights.
February 27, 2018: Comcast announces plans for a $31 billion bid to buy the 61% of Sky, a European media and telecommunications company, 15% more than the outstanding Fox bid. Fox currently owns 39% of Sky, which along with the potential 61% up for sale, would be given to the purchaser of 21st Century Fox.
April 12, 2018:The UK Takeover Panel rules that Disney must attempt to buy the remaining 61% of Sky if Disney acquires 21st Century Fox. Meaning if the Fox-Sky deal is not complete or is turned down before Disney buys Fox, Disney must place another offer for Sky.
April 25, 2018: Comcast formally unveils a $30.7 billion bid to buy the outstanding 61% of Sky. The bid is significantly higher than the $16 billion bid by Fox, which causes Sky to withdraw its recommendation for the Fox bid.
May 7, 2018: Reuters reports that Comcast is in talks with investment banks to make a $60 billion all-cash bid for 21st Century Fox. This potential bid would be higher than the $52 billion all-stock bid by Disney. Once again, Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts states this bid is contingent on the Fed ruling in favor of the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
May 9, 2018: Disney CEO Bob Iger says Disney may look into “letting Comcast purchase Sky” in order for Disney to close the deal with 21st Century Fox.
May 30, 2018:Disney and 21st Century Fox set July 10th date for a shareholder vote on the proposed merger. The Fox Board still recommends the Disney offer, but says it is aware of the potential Comcast offer. Also, regulatory filings reveal that Comcast had made a $64 billion all-stock offer for Fox in November 2017, a month before Disney and Fox announced their deal.
June 18, 2018:It is reported that Disney is expected to add cash to their previous $55 billion all-stock bid for Fox. The Fox board will meet on June 20th to discuss the offers, and if Comcast is selected, Disney will have five days to match Comcast’s offer.
June 19, 2018: Disney agrees with British authorities to operate Sky for 15 years and not sell the company for that time unless agreed with the government. This deal includes an annual commitment of $132 million a year for funding, all contingent on the Fox acquisition of Sky being completed.
June 20, 2018:Disney and Fox agree to a new, $71.3 billion deal with a 50/50 stock and cash split. Offering $38 a share for Fox, this deal is $10 more than Disney’s previous offer and is $3 more per share than Comcast’s. Fox calls this deal “superior” to the Comcast offer and postpones the July 10th shareholder vote to discuss this new deal.
June 27, 2018:The Justice Department approves Disney’s proposed acquisition of Fox. As part of the approval, Disney must divest Fox’s regional sports networks to “ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution”.