Disney hikes bid for Fox assets to $71.3 billion, tops Comcast

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As of this writing, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, believes that Disney is putting out the better offer, but is totally open to accepting a bid from Comcast should they raise it.

Now, according to CNN Money, Disney has raised their bid to $71.3 billion, topping Comcast's offer by $6.3 billion.

Disney said it will pay $38 per share for Fox, up from its initial bid of $28 per share.

Fox shares jumped 8 percent to $48.23, while Comcast rose 2.1 percent to $33.52. Last week, Comcast made a $65 billion all cash offer for the company, but now Disney has answered back.

The improved offer came as 21st Century Fox board was set to decide whether to back Comcast's bid for assets that include Fox's film and television studios and worldwide businesses. "We remain convinced that the combination of 21CF's iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney's will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world", he said in a statement.

Disney has proved it is in to win the 20th Century Fox bidding war against Comcast, and Disney CEO Bob Iger has shed some light on why. AT&T just bought Time Warner for $81 billion, after a federal judge rejected the government's antitrust concerns.

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In offering to take on $13.8 billion in Fox debt, Disney's revised proposal effectively adds up to an $85.1 billion transaction.

Among the Fox assets up for grabs are its film and TV studios, the FX and National Geographic cable network groups, 22 regional sports networks and a 30 percent stake in Hulu.

Disney said the value of the assets - which include production companies responsible for "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family", as well as film production businesses - had increased compared to December due to tax reform and operating improvements.

The acquisition will significantly increase Disney's global footprint and expand the content and distribution for its direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings, which include ESPN+ for sports fans; a Disney-branded streaming video-on-demand service launching in late 2019 that will feature Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films along with a host of exclusive original content and library titles; and its ownership stake in Hulu.

For all the certainty Iger projects, many observers believe the Disney-Fox-Comcast intrigue is in early innings.

"I think Comcast would be the most leveraged company ever". The acquisition will occur immediately after the spin-off by 21st Century Fox of the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company referred to as New Fox.