(Reuters) - Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) confirmed on Wednesday it was preparing a higher, all-cash offer for most of the media assets of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O), setting up a bidding war with rival Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), which already has agreed to a $52-billion deal with Fox.
The largest U.S. cable operator said it was in advanced stages of readying a bid that would be superior to Disney’s all-stock offer.
“While no final decision has been made, at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced,” Comcast said in a statement.
The news lifted Fox shares 0.9 percent to $38.52. Comcast shares were down 1.6 percent at $31.97 and Disney shares fell 1.7 percent to $102.26.
By going public with its plans, Comcast is putting pressure on Fox and its shareholders to not rush into approving the Disney deal. Fox shareholders will vote on the Disney deal later this summer. A date has not yet been set.
Comcast may have a tough time winning over Fox’s largest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch, however. The Murdoch family owns a 17-percent stake in the U.S. TV and movie giant and would face a multi-billion dollar capital gains tax bill if he accepted an all-cash offer from Comcast, tax experts have told Reuters.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month that Comcast was working on financing for a cash offer worth as much as $60 billion for the Fox assets, but Wednesday’s statement was the first formal confirmation by the company.
Fox and Disney declined to comment. Fox’s Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said earlier this month that the company was committed to its agreement with Disney.