Fox hunt: Comcast prepares to duel with Disney over Rupert Murdoch's company

Comcast only plans to proceed with the bid if a federal judge allows AT&T's planned $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner to proceed. Matt Rourke  AP

If the deal closes, Murdoch could be the odd man out, as reports suggest that his older brother Lachlan and his father Rupert are expected to remain with what's now being called New Fox, consisting of Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and the Fox broadcast network.

James Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox chief executive, is planning to strike out on his own if Fox's pending deal to sell much of the company to Walt Disney Co. closes, most likely by starting a venture-capital fund to invest in digital and global media businesses, according to people familiar with the matter.

Shares in Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox rose overnight on the speculation.

It is speculated that once and if a federal judge rules in Comcast's favor regarding the AT&T-Time Warner acquisition, that Comcast will then focus on 21st Century Fox.

Murdoch, the chairman of Fox as well as the U.K.'s Sky, was expected to take up a senior executive position at Disney if and when the deal closed.

Comcast is considering making a play to break up that deal, and has lined up around $60 billion in financing to make an all-cash offer for the Fox assets, the people say.

Comcast earlier this year made a bid for European satellite company Sky.

As per media reports, Comcast is asking bankers to increase the loans it has to buy Sky so it can purchase the Fox assets as well. Inside Disney, a role for him was always seen as uncertain, according to people familiar with the matter.

Before the Disney deal was reached, Comcast had submitted an offer for the Fox assets that was 16% higher, but Fox turned it down partly over fears that it wouldn't pass muster with antitrust regulators, according to a regulatory filing last month and people familiar with the situation. The cable company believes an all-cash offer would be compelling to most Fox shareholders. Comcast is looking to obtain $60 Billion from the investment banks to make Fox an all-cash offer. Fox's shares are up almost 50 per cent since early October. The 21st Century Fox deal is their latest battleground.

21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-parent News Corp share common ownership.

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