Comcast, Verizon and maybe Amazon want look at 21st Century Fox assets

First it was Disney and then along came Comcast, but now other industry heavyweights, Verizon and possibly Amazon, are eyeing some of 21st Century Fox's rich media empire.

Comcast has approached Fox and expressed interest in some of Fox's assets, including U.K.-based TV and Internet provider Sky and Mumbai-headquartered studio Star India, a source familiar with the situation told USA TODAY.

And Comcast is not alone. Verizon is among those that contacted Fox about potential acquisitions, the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations, said. Amazon may also be interested.

Fox shares (FOX) are up more than 4% Friday, one day after CNBC reported Comcast recently approached Fox about some of its assets, including Fox's movie studio and some TV assets, as well as Sky. These also had attracted the interest of Disney, CNBC reported last week.

Also highly valued: the channels FX and National Geographic. Discussions are at a very early stage, the person told USA TODAY.

The Wall Street Journalreported Thursday that Verizon had talked with Fox and also said Sony's entertainment division has informally contacted Fox, according to the persons familiar with the situation who spoke to the Journal.

Sky and Star India would increase the international reach of any of the supposed suitors. Amazon, Disney and Verizon also have direct-to-consumer video services in various stages of evolution and additional content such as National Geographic and FX would buttress those.

21st Century Fox is controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch; along with sons James and Lachlan, they own Fox, which includes the Fox TV network, Fox News and Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox.

The company has run into problems closing its $15 billion bid to acquire the 61% of Sky that it does not own. U.K. regulators have extended the review approval process, in part to take into account several legal suits and charges of sexual harassment and discrimination at Fox News.

These movements all come with a backdrop of AT&T attempting to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion and possibly facing a Justice Department challenge.

But Disney's pass made at Fox was likely to encourage additional overtures, said Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research in a note to investors Monday: "We expect the pitches from bankers to media company boards and executive teams to accelerate at a feverish pace as the broader industry looks to respond to the possibility of the biggest media company looking to acquire a significant piece of one of its other largest peers."


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