Judge clears AT&T takeover of Time Warner

Brian Roberts

CREDIT Mark Lennihan AP REX Shutterstock

However, part of the appeal of the Disney deal to the Murdoch family was its ability to make them influential Disney shareholders, with 21st Century Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch (son of Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch) potentially inheriting a high position at Disney if the deal is completed. Disney made a US$52.4 billion all-stock offer for Fox, which was accepted in December.

Disney won out a year ago when 21st Century Fox was officially fielding offers for the majority of their assets, which includes their movie studio 20th Century Fox, their stake in Hulu, a host of regional sports Networks, FX, National Geographic and, their stake in worldwide broadcaster Sky and, most importantly in the eyes of many movie lovers, the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises.

Disney itself has "surgically" structured a transaction that "might be doable", avoiding Fox Broadcasting and big Fox sports channels, US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said last week.

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On Tuesday, a federal judge cleared the AT&T's takeover of Time Warner, rejecting regulator concerns that the tie-up would stifle competition and lead to higher consumer prices. It also offered to pay Fox's $1.525 billion breakup fee owed Disney, if Fox went with Comcast. And don't forget, whoever wins this bid will also become the majority owner of Hulu.

The combined company posted almost $192 billion in sales a year ago, and is worth roughly $282 billion on the stock market. That has proven the case this afternoon with Comcast formerly revealing the bid, which it says is, at minimum, just as "favorable" for Fox as Disney's own offer.

Image: Disney also wants to buy Fox.

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AT&T is known to most Americans as a cell phone service provider while Time Warner owns giant media brands such as the HBO movie channel, the Warner Brothers movie studio and CNN.

Comcast in a statement outlined an offer that was similar to Disney's, including a commitment to the same divestitures. To survive the great unbundling, AT&T needs a content package strong enough to gain it a share of the "over-the-top" media market.

On the most direct impact, shares of AT&T t , which were already up 6% over the past week, gave up some of that gain during after-hours trading and declined 2%.

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"We have reviewed the publicly available terms of the proposed Disney transaction, as well as the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC describing the reasons for the Fox board of directors' decision", Roberts wrote. Like Disney, Comcast is willing to divest Fox's regional sports networks if regulators demand it, according to company filings.

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