Saturday, 23 June, 2018

US judge clears AT&T merger with Time Warner with no conditions

AT&T closes $85 billion deal for Time Warner Judge approves landmark $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, paving way for T-Mobile-Sprint deal
Stacy Diaz | 14 June, 2018, 03:18

Comcast announced in May that it was preparing an offer to buy 21st Century Fox after an earlier bid was rejected, and news reports suggest that an offer could come as soon as Wednesday.

Today's ruling comes as part of the antitrust lawsuit levied by the Justice Department a year ago. Comcast said last month that its new offer would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as Disney's terms.

So, we were disappointed when 21CF made a decision to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price.

That's 19 percent more than the $52.4 billion that Disney agreed to pay in December.

Comcast said it meant to pursue its $30 billion acquisition of Sky Plc (SKYB.L) in parallel with its Fox bid. "This merger will further strengthen Comcast's hand, making it far more hard for rivals to compete". Those rules would have prevented AT&T from blocking or throttling content, and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. Cable companies like Comcast are no longer competing only with satellite alternatives such as DirecTV, but also stand-alone services such as Netflix and cable-like online bundles through Sony, AT&T and others.

Comcast already owns film and TV studios, broadcast and cable TV operations including the NBC and U.S. networks, and the Universal Studios theme parks.

Things just got slightly more complicated in the ongoing saga of 21st Century Fox. The firm's properties include the original Star Wars movies, the X-Men franchise and TV hits like The Simpsons. It bought NBCUniversal's cable channels and movie studio in 2013 and added Dreamworks Animation in 2016. A combined company would hold the rights to air Fox's long running TV show "The Simpsons", the USA rights to the Olympics and Premier League Soccer.

Whichever company prevails would also control Fox's cable and worldwide TV businesses.

NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke noted the upside of Fox's global presence, which would boost Comcast's worldwide revenue from 9% of the whole to 27%.

Roberts said he had been "disappointed" that Fox had entered into negotiations with Disney but was "highly confident" that his new offer would be approved by regulators.

Fox shareholders are set to vote on the Disney bid on July 10. Fox stock jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading following the ruling. Comcast is making the offer even though Fox has not solicited it.

AT&T Inc won court approval on Tuesday to buy Time Warner Inc for $85 billion, rebuffing an attempt by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to block the deal and likely setting off a wave of corporate mergers.

With or without Time Warner, AT&T is very focused on its media business.

Disney wouldn't face the same issues because it isn't a television distributor as the way Comcast and AT&T are. It was the No. 2 film studio at the box office previous year.

That could raise regulatory objections.

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Regulators there also have cleared Comcast's $30.7-billion USA offer for the 61 per cent of Sky that Murdoch doesn't own.

Comcast offered a $2.5 billion reverse termination fee if the deal did not go through, the same as Disney. "We are in our minds the right buyer with the superior proposal and as much or better certainty and commitments and safeguards for Fox and the Fox board that are the same as those provided by Disney".