Roberts: Shareholder Value Drove Fox Decision

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the cable operator dropped out of the running for 21 Century Fox assets earlier this month for a simple reason: it couldn’t justify the rising cost.

Comcast first made an unsolicited bid for the Fox properties in June, about six months after the programmer had agreed to sell them to The Walt Disney Co. for $52.4 billion, not including debt. Disney countered Comcast’s all-cash $65 billion offer with a cash and stock deal valued at $71.3 billion on June 20. Comcast dropped out of the bidding on July 19. 

Related: Moffett: Comcast Should Drop Sky Pursuit Too 

On a conference call with analysts to discuss Q2 results, Roberts said the Fox assets were most attractive to Comcast for their international opportunities.

Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts

“Ultimately we pulled back because we thought we couldn’t build enough shareholder value” at an ever-escalating price, Roberts said.

The Disney Fox deal has already received regulatory approval.  Shareholders of both companies are expected to officially vote on the deal at special meetings slated for July 27 in New York.

Comcast continues to pursue another Fox asset – British satellite company Sky. Comcast countered a $32.5 billion Fox offer for Sky with its own $34 billion bid earlier this month. Fox could raise the ante again, but some analysts say it could wait as long as September to restart that bidding war.