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Comcast bid more than Disney for 21st Century Fox

Los Angeles

RUPERT Murdoch sold most of 21st Century Fox to Disney in December for US$52.4 billion, spurning a proposal from Comcast that was 16 per cent higher on a per-share basis, in part because Comcast refused to offer protections in the event of regulatory rejection.

Although Comcast's interest in 21st Century Fox was previously known, details of Comcast's proposal - and Fox's reasoning for rebuffing it - were disclosed for the first time on Wednesday as part of a 456-page filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The paperwork, required under securities law, also disclosed that senior Fox executives, including Mr Murdoch and his two sons, James and Lachlan, are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in "golden parachute" payments.

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Disney's all-stock deal with 21st Century Fox, announced on Dec 14, valued Mr Murdoch's company at US$29.54 a share. Among other assets, Disney bought the 20th Century Fox studio, Hulu, the FX cable network, and stakes in two overseas television-service providers, Sky of Britain and Star of India. Disney did not buy Fox News or the Fox broadcast network.

Comcast, identified in the filing as Party B, made an all-stock proposal worth US$34.41 per share in November. The filing portrays Mr Murdoch and the Fox board as taking Comcast's interest seriously - until Comcast repeatedly refused to agree to a breakup fee in case Department of Justice regulators rejected the deal. Disney, perhaps showing more confidence in its chances with regulators, had offered a US$2.5 billion fee.

Comcast also proposed unacceptable plans for divesting any assets singled out by antitrust regulators as problematic, according to the filing.

21st Century Fox's board also concluded that Disney stock was more valuable and that Disney represented a better strategic fit for Fox assets. NYTIMES