Comcast Corp CMCSA.O dropped its $66 billion bid for Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's FOXA.O entertainment assets on Thursday but said it would still try to expand its worldwide footprint by acquiring 61 percent of European broadcaster Sky Plc SKYB.L , the remainder of which is owned by Fox. Comcast declined to exceed a $71.3 billion offer made by Disney for the bulk of Fox's assets, which includes the 20th Century Fox Studio, the cable studios FX and Nat Geo, and a stake in the Hulu streaming service.
Comcast had been fiercely duelling with Disney for Twenty-First Century Fox assets, but on Thursday said that it would not raise its $66 billion United States offer for the company. On CNBC, Disney's Iger said he was "extremely pleased with today's news". While Comcast is bidding for the whole of Sky, Fox has been working for years to secure the 61% of the pay-TV company that it doesn't already own. However with Comcast out of the race, Fox shareholders really only have one option to choose and this should quicken the process.
This opens up so many possibilities for Disney, but most fans are very excited at the idea of Fox's Marvel characters crossing over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Comcast didn't specify its reason for pulling out of the race but said it will instead focus on its offer to purchase a percentage of British telecommunications company Sky.
The broadband, cable and entertainment giant Comcast announced Thursday that it would withdraw from the field, conceding defeat in its audacious bidding war for most of the entertainment assets of Fox, controlled by the Murdoch family.
So, Comcast turned its attention skyward, increasing its offer for the European satellite distributor to £14.75 a share last week, valuing the company at $34 billion. It was also anxious how much revenue it would lose in divesting assets to appease USA antitrust regulators.
Are you excited for Disney to finally acquire Fox?
The Fox sale does not include major assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Broadcasting Company.
"Our view is that probably there is less chance of Fox/Disney coming back with an increased offer for Sky given that Comcast would have more available firepower", said Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker. Fox owns the other 39% of Sky.
Indeed, Comcast stock was up 2.8 percent in pre-market trading to about $35 a share. The Justice Department had argued that the deal would reduce competition and raise prices, and last week moved to appeal the decision to clear the merger. That also holds the prospect of boosting the cost of the overall Fox deal to Disney, as it intends to buy up all of Sky if the Murdochs prevail.