American suitors are eyeing Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox business amid signs the media mogul is preparing to break up his empire.
US giants Comcast and Verizon are the latest firms to express an interest in 21st Century Fox’s entertainment businesses, which includes the film studios, its TV production arm, the National Geographic channels and its 39 per cent stake in British broadcaster Sky.
The Walt Disney Company has also held talks with 21st Century Fox over a possible deal that would see Murdoch retain control of Fox’s broadcast network, including Fox News.
Comcast, which owns film studio Universal and the NBC television network, is understood to have decided to open talks after reports of Disney’s interest. Verizon was said to be mulling the idea because of telecoms firm AT&T’s proposed buyout of Time Warner, which is being examined by regulators.
Any move to snap up 21st Century Fox’s entertainment arms would represent consolidation in an industry that is under pressure from a number of directions. On-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to grow and are ploughing billions of pounds into original content to challenge traditional broadcasters and film studios.
The sale talk comes as 21st Century Fox struggles to complete its £11.7bn acquisition of the 61 per cent of Sky that it does not already own.