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Fox shares pop ahead of expected Comcast bid


(Reuters) - Twenty-First Century Inc's shares hit a record high on Wednesday as approval for Inc's $85 billion buyout of Inc spurred speculation that Corp would make an offer for most of Fox's assets.

A firm offer from Comcast, widely expected later in the day, could upend Fox's $52 billion all-stock deal to be bought by .

U.S. on Tuesday approved AT&T's buyout of Time Warner, rebuffing an attempt by U.S. to block the takeover and potentially clearing the path for more such deals in a rapidly changing industry.

shares rose 7 percent in afternoon trade. Shares of other telecom and companies such as , and were all up between 1 percent to 3 percent. rose almost 3 percent, while Disney was up 2 percent.

While the judge's approval of AT&T's deal for may embolden Comcast, it does not guarantee clear passage for its acquisition of Fox's entertainment business, according to antitrust lawyers.

Henry Su, an antitrust expert with Constantine Cannon LLP, said that already owns significant amounts of content because it bought NBC Universal.

Both companies operate television and film studios, have a stake in streaming service Hulu and own regional sports networks.

Craig Moffett, an with MoffettNathanson, said Leon's opinion will be seen as a green light for to bid for Rupert Murdoch's Fox, but tipped Disney as the potential winner in a bidding war.

"We continue to believe that Disney has the superior balance sheet, cost of debt, equity and rationale to emerge victorious over Comcast in a bidding war," Moffett said.

Comcast said in May it was in advanced stages of preparing a higher all-cash offer for Fox's assets but did not indicate the value of its bid. reported last November that both Comcast and had expressed interest in buying Fox's assets.

The move by companies to consolidate highlights the threat from such as and Alphabet Inc's Google, which sell directly to consumers, without requiring a pricey cable subscription.

AT&T's stock, however, was down 5 percent, with analysts raising concerns about the debt the company would absorb. Research firm said will carry $249 billion of debt after the merger.

played down the drop in AT&T's stock price.

"Once technically driven volatility wears off we expect the stock to move higher as closure will likely provide a new investor catalyst including about $1.5 billion in anticipated cost synergies," Williams said.

(Reporting by in Bengaluru and; Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by and Lisa Shumaker)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 00:26 IST