Investors anticipate that Comcast will launch a rival bid for 21st Century Fox in the wake of today’s federal court ruling clearing the way for the AT&T-Time Warner mega-merger.
Fox’s stock rocketed in after-hours trading, rising 7% to $43.42 tonight, in a sign that Wall Street expects the U.S. cable giant to challenge Disney for the prized media asset, with its valuable international holdings, lucrative cinematic franchises and well-regarded cable networks.
Indeed, Disney’s stock fell modestly after Judge Richard Leon announced his decision this afternoon in Washington, D.C.
“All hell’s going to break loose on the Disney-Fox deal,” predicted investment banker Lloyd Greif. “Should be interesting, although I certainly wouldn’t count Disney out.”
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has made no secret of his intentions to pursue Fox, even after being rebuffed last year by the media company Rupert Murdoch built amid antitrust concerns.
Roberts told investors at the company’s annual shareholders meeting this week that the cable giant is in the “advanced stages” of preparing an offer for most of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets.
That bid, which is reportedly planned as a $60 billion all-cash offer, would top Disney’s $52.4 billion all-stock offer for the assets, which include the Fox film and television studios, the FX and National Geographic cable networks, as well as its holdings in Sky in Europe and Star in India.
Indeed, BTIG Analyst Rich Greenfield predicts Comcast will make its all-cash bid for the same Fox assets that Disney is trying to buy “within 24- to 48-hours.”