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Call it a big plot twist in the second act of a compelling corporate drama. Comcast’s $65 billion competing all-cash bid for 21st Century Fox adds a fresh layer of complexity and uncertainty for staffers on the studio’s Century City lot who were already bracing for big changes with the pending sale of key assets to Disney.
Comcast’s move comes just as some of the management picture for the enlarged Disney and the reconfigured New Fox was starting to come into focus. Now, the only sure thing is that Comcast’s move will prolong the process of settling the fate of 21st Century Fox’s studio, FX Networks, and National Geographic Partners divisions, among other assets.
Bid - Comcast - Century - Fox - Board
The rival bid from Comcast means the 21st Century Fox board will have to engage with the cable giant on the details of the offer and its long-term plans for the Fox assets. Rupert Murdoch and other Fox leaders have already been vocal proponents of the $52.4 billion cash-and-stock Disney transaction, which was announced Dec. 13, but they are under fiduciary obligation to give consideration to Comcast’s offer, which is more lucrative on a purely financial basis. Moreover, the fact that Comcast is sailing in with a big counteroffer to Disney could stir up other bidders.
Comcast’s offer has sparked a new round of speculation about how the Fox divisions and their leaders might be integrated with the corresponding assets owned by NBCUniversal, notably the Universal Studios film operation and the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment arm that houses USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen and other cablers. Some executives at Fox lot have expressed a preference for Disney because it is perceived that there is less duplication compared to Comcast, particularly on the cable programming side.
Disney - Feels - Option - Veteran - Fox
“Disney feels like the sexier option,” said a 20-year veteran of Fox on the TV side.
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