Disney has upped its offer for US media giant 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to US$71.3 billion in cash and shares, up from an earlier US$52 billion bid made in December.
The improved bid values Fox at US$38 a share, and comes just one week after US cable operator Comcast made a US$65 billion counter bid for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
The move puts Disney back in pole position in the bidding war with Comcast. Fox, which had backed Disney’s original bid, says that in light of the new offer Comcast’s bid cannot be considered to result in a better deal for shareholders.
Fox has now scheduled a vote on the merger proposal for 10th July after jointly submitting filings with Disney to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry,” said Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox.
“We remain convinced that the combination of Fox’s iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney’s will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world.”
Comcast and Disney are vying for a package of assets that includes the Twentieth Century Fox film studio, its stake in Sky, and media company Star India, among others.
“The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies and after six months of integration planning we’re even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox,” added Disney chief executive Bob Iger.