Disney Increases Fox Bid to $71.3 Billion

The X Men may be headed to Disney after all.                  21st Century Fox

The previous agreement was an all-stock deal, and Comcast's cash offer was seen as a significant enticement.

21st Century Fox has agreed to an improved offer from The Walt Disney Co. worth $38 a share, up from $28 a share which was agreed upon in December. 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.

Fox shares rose 5.4 percent to $47.11 in premarket trading, while Comcast was marginally lower.

Fox accepted the sweetened terms, saying it offers "a package of consideration, flexibility and deal certainty enhancements that is superior to the proposal made by the Comcast Corporation".

Disney's latest offer is a "very aggressive move" by Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger and may make it hard for Comcast to respond, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney.

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Disney said it expects to pay a total of about $35.7bn in cash and issue 343 million new shares to Fox shareholders, representing about a 19% stake in Disney, with the deal valued at $71.3bn. Comcast's current bid was already poised to load the company up with debt, and its shares have fallen 18 per cent this year.

Disney's new offer gives Fox shareholders the option to take their payment in the form of cash or stock, up to a 50-50 level.

The deal would include Fox film and TV studios, some cable networks and worldwide assets, but not Fox News Channel or the Fox television network.

Meanwhile, there's a separate - yet intertwined - fight for Sky, the British pay-TV company. "Investors have been speculating that they could bid as high as $43-45".

The increased offer comes one week after Comcast crashed Disney's attempt to buy the assets with a $65 billion bid, following the US Justice Department's approval of AT&T's merger with Time Warner.

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