(Reuters) - 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.
Comcast’s deliberations indicate that it believes it still has a chance to clinch a deal with Fox, even though it previous bid last year for more than $60 billion was rejected over concerns that regulators worried about media consolidation could thwart it, the sources said.
Comcast may decide not to make any new offer, the sources said. Its decision will be informed by how Fox justifies the deal with Disney in a regulatory filing to its shareholders sometime before they are asked to vote on the deal this summer, the sources added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Comcast, Disney and Fox gave no immediate comment.
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.
It was is possible that instead of re-engaging in pursuit of all of Fox assets, Comcast could zero in on something in particular, such as European pay TV giant Sky, the Wall Street Journal report said, citing anonymous sources.
The Murdoch family, which controls Fox, preferred a deal with Disney because it would rather be paid in Disney than Comcast stock, and expects a potential deal with Disney to be cleared by U.S. antitrust regulators more easily, sources told Reuters in December.
Disney struck a deal with Fox to buy film, television and international businesses. The deal is set to bring to a close more than half a century of expansion by Murdoch, 86, who turned a single Australian newspaper he inherited from his father at the age of 21 into one of the world’s most important global news and film conglomerates. The new, slimmed down Fox will focus on TV news and sport.
Reporting by Anjali Athaveley and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Additional reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell