Comcast Is Dropping Bid to Acquire 21st Century Fox Assets; Will Focus on Sky

By A.J. Katz 

Comcast Corp. announced this morning that it’s officially dropping its pursuit of 21st Century Fox, and will now focus its efforts on acquiring 61 percent of the European media giant Sky.

Comcast issued the following statement this morning:

Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets, and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky.

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and ceo, Comcast Corporation said, “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”

This paves the way for 21CF and Disney to execute their agreement. The two companies struck a $52.4 billion deal last December, where Disney would acquire 21CF’s entertainment assets, including its film & TV studios, cable entertainment networks and Fox’s stake in Hulu. Disney chairman Bob Iger appeared on GMA last year to make the news official.

But Comcast upped the ante last month by making a $65 billion offer for the aforementioned 21CF entertainment assets. Disney responded by making a $71.3 billion bid of cash and stock. Three weeks ago, the DOJ approved Disney’s $71.3 billion bid. If Comcast had wanted to counter Disney’s offer, it would have had to act before July 27, which is when Disney and Fox’s shareholders are set to vote on that deal.

What will happen to Fox? After selling off its entertainment assets to Disney, Fox will keep its broadcast network (FOX), Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network, and spin it off into a new company being called “new Fox.” Disney will be required to divest Fox’s 22 regional sports networks (RSNs) as part of the regulatory approval for the deal.

CNBC’s David Faber, whose employer is owned by Comcast, reportedly called Iger this morning, and read him the statement aloud.

Adweek’s Jason Lynch has more on the breaking news story.