Walt Disney Co.’s potential deal to acquire much of Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment empire appears to be in the home stretch as the only other serious bidder, Comcast Corp., confirmed that it was no longer in the running.
Comcast last month expressed interest in buying some of the same 21st Century Fox assets that Disney wants to buy, including Fox’s movie and television studio and international properties.
“When a set of assets like 21st Century Fox’s becomes available, it’s our responsibility to evaluate if there’s a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders,” Comcast said in a statement to various news organizations. “That’s what we tried to do and we are no longer engaged in the review of those assets. We never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer.”
Disney first approached Rupert Murdoch several weeks ago to propose buying Fox’s television and movie studio, 22 regional sports networks, a stake in Hulu and international television assets, but talks stalled. Comcast tried to engage Fox in negotiations during a lull in its talks with Disney, but Fox didn’t seem interested in pursuing a deal, according to people close to the process.
Comcast never made a financial offer for the Fox assets, according to a person close to the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Comcast — one of the nation’s largest internet service and cable television providers — already owns NBCUniversal, the company that owns NBC and Universal Pictures.
Wall Street analysts had speculated that it would have been difficult for Comcast to secure the necessary approvals from federal regulators to complete a Fox transaction. The U.S. Justice Department is trying to block a similar tie-up between AT&T and Time Warner Inc.
The Philadelphia-based cable giant has struggled to get deals approved before. The Justice Department in 2015 moved to oppose Comcast’s proposed deal to buy another cable company, Time Warner Cable. Comcast withdrew its offer for Time Warner Cable in the face of the government’s opposition. Charter Communications eventually bought Time Warner Cable.