Comcast Corp is considering a new offer for Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox assets, despite an agreement in December to sell them to Walt Disney Co for $52.4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reports that Comcast made a bid for Fox that was in the low US$60 billion range, significantly higher than Disney's US$52.4 billion offer.
Comcast might be prepared to offer protections to Fox such as agreeing to remove certain assets from the deal that prove controversial in Washington, D.C., including regional sports channels, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Comcast's deliberations.
Comcast's initial bid was rejected by Fox, which instead struck a deal with Disney in December - a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire 20th Century Fox movie and TV studio, worldwide pay TV properties, and other entertainment and sports assets from Rupert Murdoch's empire.
"Comcast will be looking for whether the proxy is clear that its bid was far higher than Disney's, and for signs that it was considered seriously", report sources close to the situation.
According to the paper, Comcast could make alterations created to secure approval, such as removing regional sports channels from the agreement. Another possibility is Comcast purchasing some Fox assets à la carte, such as European pay TV giant Sky, foregoing a second pursuit of all of the Fox assets.
But Comcast executives were known to have strongly considered making a counter bid against Disney when the Disney-Fox deal was first unveiled December 14.
Comcast's interest in Fox is motivated in part by its desire to expand internationally, as well as by a desire to secure more scale in content production and potentially to increase its stake in online service Hulu.
Should the deal be completed, Disney-owned Marvel Studios will be able to integrate Fox properties Deadpool, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four into the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.