In another report confirming news that Deadline broke earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal today said the Walt Disney Co. has renewed discussions to purchase some of the assets of 21st Century Fox.
The potential deal has seen both coasts buzzing all week. But momentum toward concluding any purchase allegedly has Comcast still lurking in the weeds, according to the WSJ update. 21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-parent News Corp share common ownership.
The remaining elements of Murdoch’s entertainment empire would be much smaller if an asset sale is completed. Murdoch and his family hold 39% of 21st Century Fox voting shares and will reportedly decide by the end of the year whether any sale will move forward.
The proposed deal allegedly centers on such international assets as Fox’s 39% holding in U.K. satellite TV provider Sky PLC and India’s Star TV. US-based Fox News Channel, The Fox Broadcasting Co. and sports network FS1 are not expected to be part of the package.
Comcast has also approached 21st Century Fox to express interest in a possible acquisition, according to reports citing people familiar with the matter. The media giant wants to explore talks to buy Fox’s movie and TV studio, some of its cable networks, and its stakes in satellite TV provider Sky, Star India and the Hulu streaming service. As with the Disney deal, The Fox Broadcasting Co., local television stations, Fox News Channel and Fox Sports would not be included in a possible sale.
The film and TV operations at Fox and Comcast have plenty of areas of overlap, so some carve-outs or divestitures would be necessary for a deal to proceed.
Disney’s previous bid for the assets broke down over price. This week, at a company shareholder’s meeting for Fox, co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch dodged a question about any sale.