Comcast quits bidding for Fox assets and vows to focus on Sky

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In the release, Comcast linked to its proposal to acquire Sky, indicating that it was focused on that acquisition now.

The two companies were vying for Fox's film and TV studios, the networks FX and NatGeo, and its stakes in Hulu, India's Star network, andーto complicate thingsーSky.

In a regulatory filing last week, Fox and Disney acknowledged for the first time they may not try to again outbid Comcast on Sky, though the sources stressed no decision has been taken.

Last week Murdoch's Fox made a €27 billion bid to buy Sky, only to be trumped hours later by a new Comcast offer of €29 billion. There were rumors that the Disney deal might be in jeopardy as Comcast was looking to bid even more; however, the nail in the coffin came when the Justice Department appealed the AT&T takeover of Warner Bros., which is something Comcast wanted to avoid with Fox Studios.

Comcast is competing with Fox over the Sky bid, with regulators wary about Murdoch extending his influence in the media sector. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, meanwhile, has been branded the industry's boogeyman because of the company's tough stance in negotiating carriage deals with content companies.

Bottom line: The real victor here, it seems, is Fox. A sale means the X-Men and the Avengers could reunite in future movies. Fox and Disney shareholders will vote on their deal next week.

GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives called Comcast's move "the final chapter in this soap opera". Sky has major offerings, not just in the United Kingdom but in Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain and Ireland.

Comcast's stock rose more than 2.5 percent in Thursday premarket trading.

To remedy this, Fox has proposed to sell Sky News to Disney.

Disney would get other global properties from Fox, including Star India, a major Mumbai-based media company with dozens of sports and entertainment channels; Tata Sky, an Indian satellite TV provider; and Endemol Shine Group, a Dutch-based media company. Instead, Comcast has narrowed its focus to acquire Fox's coveted 39% share of UK's Sky, conceding the entertainment properties to Disney but remaining in the fight for an global foothold. Moffett notes that the satellite TV provider is vulnerable to the same disruptions by Netflix and other streaming services as Comcast itself.

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