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Disney Nearing Finish Line With 21st Century Fox as Comcast Bows Out of Acquisition Hunt

Disney has such an inside track on reaching a $60 billion-plus deal to acquire key entertainment and sports assets from 21st Century Fox that Comcast has formally exited the chase.

Comcast said Monday it was “no longer” looking at Fox’s film and TV studio and other assets as acquisition targets. The cable giant had yet to comment on its interest in Fox prior to Monday’s statement. But with Hollywood abuzz of a Disney-Fox deal coming down within the next few days, Comcast made a point of getting the first word in on its effort.

“When a set of assets like 21st Century Fox’s becomes available, it’s our responsibility to evaluate if there’s a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders,” Comcast said in a statement. “That’s what we tried to do and we are no longer engaged in the review of those assets. We never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer. We have a terrific company with a strong portfolio of businesses and will continue to focus on driving growth, innovating, creating great content, and providing excellent experiences for our customers.”

The Disney-Fox deal, sparked by Disney CEO Bob Iger’s outreach to 21st Century Fox, has been brewing for more than two months. It comes as a sign that even sizable industry players like 21st Century Fox are feeling the squeeze of marketplace shifts and the growing threat in the content arena from deep-pocketed tech giants like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.

The notion of the Murdochs as sellers has shocked the industry, but it’s seen as a calculation that now is the hour to command the highest value for the assets in question. The timing is ripe because Disney needs the content production operations and the vast film and TV library that Fox brings to the table to fuel its plans for launching a Netflix-esque streaming venture by 2019.

Analysts are pegging the all-stock deal at an enterprise value of around $70 billion-$74 billion.

The formal announcement of a deal could come as early as this week but is not expected to be ready for unveiling by Tuesday. On Monday, Disney shares were up 2.5% at the close of trading to $106.83. Fox was up just 30 cents, or 1%, to $33.27.

(Pictured: Rupert Murdoch and Bob Iger)

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