Murdoch's Fox in talks with multiple buyers for TV, film assets

The 21st Century Fox sign in New York City

Nicolet Bankshares Inc. now owns 21,288 shares of the company's stock worth $562,000 after buying an additional 3,150 shares during the period.

A source familiar with the discussions said Comcast, Verizon and Sony are among the suitors in "preliminary" talks for the assets, which include Fox's stake in the British pay TV group Sky and its movie and television studio properties.

Acquiring Fox would vault Verizon into the entertainment business and give it a content platform to compete with a merged AT&T/Time Warner, though antitrust officials have expressed concerns over this merger, which could also lead to doubts about any other tie-ups.

Comcast's prelude is astonishing provided the Justice Departments resilient perspective on AT&T-Time Warner.

The entry of Comcast and Verizon have prompted further speculation over just how much of the company Murdoch would be willing to sell, although any deal would be subject to significant regulatory hurdles.

Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc is a media and entertainment company. Fox would retain the Fox News channel, sports interest other than its regional sports channels, and the Fox broadcast network.

The deal appears to be along similar parameters as talks recently held between Disney and Fox, in which the Mouse House would have acquired Fox's TV and film production business and several cable channels.

The talks are ongoing, but no deal is near. Twenty-First Century Fox had a return on equity of 21.41% and a net margin of 10.30%.

"All media companies should be talking strategically given the changing ecosystem", Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker wrote in a report Thursday after The Wall Street Journal first reported the talks.

"I think this is really Plan B", she said.

Comcast, which has a very limited worldwide presence, is focused on Fox 's global assets, which represent as much as 70 percent of the financial contribution of the businesses for sale, but also wants to purchase the company's movie studio, its cable networks and its regional sports networks, according to people close to the talks. Of the assets that are on the block, about 70 percent of the revenue comes from global businesses.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the NBC owner would acquire the Fox movie studio and the worldwide television distribution business.

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