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Disney in clear as Comcast drops out of Fox race

Disney StudiosComcast will not pursue an acquisition of a suite of entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox, leaving The Walt Disney Company in the clear to complete a deal.

NBCUniversal owner Comcast was one of a few companies with the scale to buy the available Fox assets, but has confirmed it is not moving forwards with a bid.

“When a set of assets like Fox’s becomes available, it is our responsibility to evaluate if there is a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders,” said Comcast in a statement yesterday.

“That is 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.”

Disney, which has been the frontrunner since news leaked the Murdoch family may offload some of its Fox assets, now looks odds-on to complete an agreement that has an estimated value of around $68 billion.

On the table are the Fox TV and movie studio, Fox 21 Television Studios, the FX and National Geographic cable operations, international Fox-owned channels, a 39% stake in pay TV operator Sky and ownership of Star India.

Last week, it appeared Disney’s acquisition of those assets would be announced this week, but confirmation is now more likely to come later in the month.

Comcast is the US’s largest cable TV provider, and owns broadcast network NBC and its production assets, plus cable networks such as USA Network and Bravo.

Verizon and Sony Pictures Entertainment have also been linked to the Fox assets, but they are not considered major threats to Disney.