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Disney's bid for Fox assets gains momentum; Comcast still in contention

Fox is likely to keep its news and business news divisions, its broadcast stations and Fox Sports

Reuters 

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Walt Co is in the lead to acquire much of Twenty-First Century Inc's media empire, though rival suitor remains in contention, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The Murdoch family, which controls Fox, prefers a deal with because it would rather be paid in than Comcast stock, and expects a potential deal with to be cleared by regulators more easily, one of the sources said.

However, no deal between and is imminent and several issues have yet to be fully negotiated, the sources said.

The Reuters sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. and Comcast declined to comment, while did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

is exploring a potential sale as it is has been considered undervalued relative to its peers, said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research.

"At the beginning of this year, was the only buy-rated stock I had because it was so depressed relative to everything else in the sector," Wieser said.

Chief Executive James Murdoch, speaking at the and Communications Conference in New York on Tuesday, declined to comment on reports about a potential sale.

"It's always good to look at what's going to create the most value for our shareholders," he told attendees.

CNBC had reported earlier on Tuesday that a deal for to buy Fox's movie studio and television production assets for more than $60 billion could come as early as next week.

shares were up 0.57 per cent in late afternoon trading, while was down 2.45 per cent. Comcast shares were down 1.56 per cent.

Disney, which has a market value of around $166 billion, would acquire Fox's FX and National Geographic cable channels, its movie studio, the Star network in India and stake in European pay-TV provider Sky PLC.

anticipates that its deal to buy the remaining 61 per cent stake of Sky, which has been held up by regulators, will be approved in the first half of 2018. Any deal for would include the remaining stake of Sky, sources have told Reuters.

would keep its news and business news divisions, its broadcast stations and Sports, the sources said.

Reuters reported in November that Comcast, which is the largest U.S. cable provider and has a market value of around $188 billion, had expressed interest in assets.

Those assets would offer the opportunity for both Comcast and to broaden their distribution footprint.

They would also be a source of new content at a time when like Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc are spending billions to bulk up on programming. Comcast has steadily boosted its ownership of content over the years.

Any potential deal would follow the US Department of Justice's decision to sue to block AT&T Inc's $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc.

First Published: Wed, December 06 2017. 14:03 IST
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