In a massively controversial decision, US District Judge Richard Leon has ruled that AT&T can acquire Time Warner, and do so without any conditions placed on it. This was the biggest antitrust case in many years, potentially paving the way for similar deals among other companies. Now that the ruling has been made, we may soon see the fallout: sources say Comcast is preparing to make a move on Fox.
The ruling was a blow to the Department of Justice, which had challenged the acquisition plan. The federal judge in the case put the blame on the DOJ, saying it failed to show that the merger would reduce competition in the market. The acquisition, which has been in limbo for almost two years, has an estimated value of $80 billion.
Critics pointed out that the deal wouldn’t be the end of such massive mergers, and may in fact open the doors to similar acquisitions among other companies. Right before the ruling was made, CNBC reported on behalf of unnamed sources that Comcast was considering making a move to get Fox if the AT&T – Time Warner ruling was favorable.
Now that the ruling went in the merger’s favor, sources claim that a Comcast-Fox acquisition will be announced any moment now. The sources claim that Comcast is preparing an all-cash bid for Fox’s assets, one that will allegedly be officially revealed some time tomorrow.
These assets are expected to include the Fox movie studio, some networks like FX and Nat Geo, the company’s Hulu stake, and more. This would be a direct move against Disney, which itself has been eyeing Fox. Previous reports had claimed that Comcast was preparing billions to bid on the assets. Back in December, it was announced that Disney was looking to grab the assets for $52 billion. In more recent times, sources claimed Comcast was putting together a $60 billion bid.
Assuming a Comcast bid for that amount is put forward, Disney would likely be forced to raise its bid. Even worse for the company, Disney’s bid is said to be all-stock, which means that if the shares fall as a result of the court’s decision, Disney’s bid may be even less attractive. A big potential barrier between a Comcast acquisition of Fox’s assets, though, would have been getting past government regulators. The AT&T – Time Warner ruling indicates Comcast has a shot at making it happen.