Disney increases bid for Murdoch's Fox assets

The 21st Century Fox logo is displayed outside the News Corporation building in the Manhattan borough of New York City New York

While Fox's board has yet to make a decision, analysts and industry dealmakers widely expect Fox to say that Comcast's bid could potentially lead to a better deal for its shareholders.

The battle for Fox has transfixed the media business, pitting Disney chief Bob Iger and Comcast head Brian Roberts against one, as the control of one of Hollywood's most storied film and television brands hangs in the balance. Disney (DIS) had initially bid $52.4 billion for Fox in December. But it comes with one key change created to stave off Comcast's all-cash offer: a provision that allows Fox shareholders to decide whether to accept their payment in cash or stock.

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The Walt Disney Company today announced that it signed an amended acquisition agreement with 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion in cash and stock.

It has also spurred AT&T's $85.4bn offer for Time Warner, whose assets include pay TV channel HBO.

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Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc.is leaning toward starting negotiations with Comcast Corp., paving the way for a bidding war over its entertainment assets, people with knowledge of the matter said. "At a time of dynamic change in the entertainment industry, the combination of Disney's and Fox's unparalleled collection of businesses and franchises will allow us to create more appealing high-quality content, expand our direct-to-consumer offerings and global presence, and deliver more personalized and compelling entertainment experiences to meet growing consumer demand around the world". Also included is Fox's 30% stake in Hulu and 39% interest in Euro satellite broadcaster Sky.

Murdoch will keep a few properties, including Fox News, the Fox Sports national cable channels and the Fox broadcasting network. Comcast swooped at the eleventh hour with a bigger deal, but the original terms of the purchase gave Disney a chance to come in with another offer. "At a time of dynamic change in the entertainment industry, the combination of Disney's and Fox's unparalleled collection of businesses and franchises will allow us to create more appealing high-quality content, expand our direct-to-consumer offerings and global presence, and deliver more personalized and compelling entertainment experiences to meet growing consumer demand around the world". Both Disney and Comcast are looking to use the Fox assets to bolster their content and expand overseas.

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Fox postponed a shareholder meeting that had been scheduled for July 10.

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