Comcast Considering Reviving Fox Pursuit After Higher Bid Was Rejected

Comcast is considering making another bid for 21st Century Fox after its higher bid was rejected, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Sunday night.

Fox initially rejected Comcast's initial bid despite it being over 15% higher than the offer of the Walt Disney Company, who eventually won the purchase of 21st Century Fox's film and television assets for $52.4 billion in stock in December.

The WSJ's Ben Fritz wrote on Twitter Comcast's original bid was "in the low $60 billions."

A key development since the February 5 report of the second bid is Fox's release of a proxy statement on the merger, according to the WSJ, who say the document would likely indicate the general process that led to the Disney Fox deal.

The site notes such documents generally avoid using specific company names, but can reveal which bidders were serious contenders.

"Comcast will be looking for whether the proxy is clear that its bid was far higher than Disney’s, and for signs that it was considered seriously," report sources close to the situation.

The landmark Disney-Fox deal includes the 20th Century Fox movie and television studio, international regional sports networks, Fox's 30% stake in streaming service Hulu, and a share of Europe's Sky family of pay TV networks.

In addition to the proxy statement, a second key factor is the AT&T-Time Warner merger, which if allowed to pass could "embolden" Comcast for a second try, as that merger would weaken Fox's original argument of an antitrust risk brought about by a potential Comcast-Fox deal.

If Comcast moves forward, it's possible they could agree to remove certain controversial assets from the deal, including the sports channels. Another possibility is Comcast purchasing some Fox assets à la carte, such as European pay TV giant Sky, foregoing a second pursuit of all of the Fox assets.

Comcast, who originally bowed out of the race just before Fox closed the deal with Disney, said in a December statement they "never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer."

The conglomerate dropped their pursuit December 11.

Comcast already owns NBC Universal, home to franchises like Jurassic World and Fast and the Furious, and like Disney, believes the acquisition of Fox's assets would help bulk up content production as well as increase its stake in Hulu, already co-owned by Comcast, Disney, and Fox.

The Disney-Fox deal would give Disney a controlling stake in Hulu, making the company "a much more formidable and dangerous competitor down the road on streaming," according to the LA Times.

Should the deal be completed, Disney-owned Marvel Studios will be able to integrate Fox properties Deadpool, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four into the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The regulatory process around the transaction, if the deal isn't halted, is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.