US telecommunications companies Comcast and Verizon have become the latest companies linked with talks to acquire key assets of media group 21st Century Fox.
Business news channel CNBC said Comcast and 21st Century Fox are in talks about a sale of Fox’s worldwide entertainment and distribution assets to Comcast in exchange for Comcast stock. The talks are said to be ongoing, with no deal near.
CNBC said Comcast’s interest focuses on Fox’s international assets, which include European pay-television broadcaster Sky and Asian pay-television broadcast group Star. However, it added it is also interested in Fox’s regional sports networks in the US, along with the company’s movie studio and cable television networks.
The Variety website said Verizon’s interest in Fox is unclear. It added that Verizon would not face the same issues of overlapping content and distribution operations as Comcast or Disney, adding that it may well target the entire company.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Disney, the parent company of international sports broadcaster ESPN, has been in talks to acquire most of the assets of Fox. Talks were said to have focused on a deal that would include Fox’s movie studio, television production and international assets, but would not include the Fox network, Fox Sports or Fox News. The transaction would also not include Fox’s local broadcasting affiliates.
Speaking during this week’s quarterly earnings announcement, 21st Century Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch and chief executive James Murdoch would not comment on the Disney speculation, but maintained the company was in a strong position.
“We are singularly and intently focused on delivering on our strategic plan,” Lachlan Murdoch said. “Our businesses and brands are stronger than ever.”