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Disney wins bidding war for Fox; Comcast drops to focus on Sky

By Susan McFarland
Disney won a bidding war for Twenty-First Century Fox assets on Thursday as Comcast dropped out of the contest to focus on its bid for the British network Sky. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Disney won a bidding war for Twenty-First Century Fox assets on Thursday as Comcast dropped out of the contest to focus on its bid for the British network Sky. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- Comcast is bowing out of a bidding war with the Walt Disney Co. to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox assets so it can focus on its bid for the British TV network Sky.

During the last two months, Comcast and Disney went head-to-head for Fox's assets which included the Fox movie and TV studios, a 30 percent stake in the streaming service Hulu and a 39 percent share of Britain-based Sky.

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Last month, Comcast topped Disney's original $52.4 billion offer made in December for the Fox assets with a $65 billion all-cash counter offer. Disney then countered the offer with a $70.4 billion bid of cash and stock.

Instead of upping the ante as analysts expected, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts decided to withdraw, he said Thursday.

RELATED Comcast tops Fox with $34B cash offer for Sky

"I'd like to congratulate (Disney CEO) Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company," Roberts said in a statement.

Roberts said Comcast will instead focus on the company's offer for British broadcaster Sky, which Disney is also trying to buy through Fox.

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Last week, Comcast offered $34 billion cash for the network, not even a day after Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch announced his company had outbid an earlier Comcast bid with a $32.5 billion proposal. The rival companies have been competing for Sky since Comcast's original offer in April.

RELATED 21st Century Fox bid for broadcaster Sky surpasses $32B

British regulators are concerned Fox owning Sky could give the Murdoch family too much influence over media matters. Philadelphia-based Comcast said it has received regulatory approvals from Britain, the European Commission, Austria, Germany and Italy, and expects the deal to close before October.

RELATED Justice Department OKs Disney's $71B purchase of Fox properties

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