Comcast and Fox are having closed-door talks about a potential acquisition

Oscar Cross
November 20, 2017

Almost two weeks after reports surfaced of Walt Disney Co. interest in buying assets of 21st Century Fox, CNBC and other news outlets are reporting new bidders have surfaced to express interest including Comcast, Verizon and Sony.

Verizon shares were up 1.4 percent, while Comcast and Netflix shares were down about 1 percent.

The source, who requested not to be identified, said that Comcast, Verizon, and Sony are among the suitors in "preliminary" talks for the assets which include Fox's stake in the British pay TV group Sky and its movie and television studio properties.

Earlier reports said the Murdochs were looking for a sale that would leave them with a more tightly focused media group that includes the Fox News channel and sports cable networks, along with the Fox broadcast network. Fox would be left with its assets including its cable news outlets and broadcast channel, including local stations. The rise of online competitors like Netflix and YouTube has slowed the growth of pay-TV, and Comcast, the biggest USA cable provider, has been adding film and TV assets to ensure it has a hand in both programming and distribution.

Selling the entertainment business would be a good deal for Fox, said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson.

Comcast wants to buy 'most of' Fox, report says

The Mouse House may have some competition as Comcast, Verizon, and Sony Entertainment have all expressed interest in acquiring 21st Century Fox as they are all said to be enticed by the company's worldwide assets. Shares of Viacom Inc and CBS Corp also rose more than 2 percent, a sign investors may see then as potential targets.

During the Fox earnings call last week, co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch declined to comment on reports, citing the company's "longstanding policy of not commenting on speculation" about corporate dealings.

USA cable and telecom companies have been buying up media assets and launching advertising businesses in the past several years.

Reports that the Murdoch family could sell parts of its empire came as a surprise last week.

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