Disney no longer needs to worry about Comcast outbidding them for most of 21st Century Fox’s assets. Comcast is moving on, but that doesn’t mean it’s all good news for Disney. Comcast has shifted their focus, but only slightly, as the company bids on one of the key components of the Disney-Fox deal.

While most of the focus, especially on a site like this one, has been on the superhero elements of the equation, the X-Men and Fantastic Four licenses were a relatively small part of the deal. European satellite television provider Sky was a major piece of the deal and that’s what Comcast is after with a $31 billion bid.

Fox already owns 39% of Sky and that stake was included in Disney’s $52.4 billion bid when the agreement was announced last December. Disney also had plans, however, for the remaining 61% of Sky, which Fox had already agreed to purchase and was seeking regulatory approval. Here is what Disney said back in December:

Prior to the close of the transaction, it is anticipated that 21st Century Fox will seek to complete its planned acquisition of the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own. Sky is one of Europe’s most successful pay television and creative enterprises with innovative and high-quality direct-to-consumer platforms, resonant brands and a strong and respected leadership team. 21st Century Fox remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer and anticipates that, subject to the necessary regulatory consents, the transaction will close by June 30, 2018. Assuming 21st Century Fox completes its acquisition of Sky prior to closing of the transaction, The Walt Disney Company would assume full ownership of Sky, including the assumption of its outstanding debt, upon closing.

Disney cannot buy the remaining 61% stake in Sky from Fox if that stake isn’t Fox’s to sell. What happens next is anyone’s guess. Comcast has confirmed their unsolicited bid for Sky, but the pay-television provider released a statement saying, ““Since no firm offer has been made at this point, shareholders are advised to take no action. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Sky was already working with Fox to get their previously agreed upon deal approved by regulators. They were not seeking other bids from Comcast or anyone else. With Comcast offering a 16% premium over Fox’s offer, however, we could see the beginning of a bidding war. Fox could try to outbid Comcast, or Disney could enter the bidding on their own for that 61% share and add it to the 39% they’re getting from Fox.

If Comcast ends up with a 61% share of Sky, it is not known how that will impact Disney’s deal with Fox. Again, 39% of Sky is all Fox had when the agreement was made, so Disney and Fox can and likely will just carry forward with their deal as planned. Still, Disney thought they were going to get all of Sky, so the thought of that not happening has to sting.

For Comcast, call it sweet revenge. Obviously, Comcast isn’t really prepared to spend $31 billion on an act of vengeance. They want Sky for Sky, but a little payback on Fox, which rejected Comcast’s acquisition overtures in favor of Disney’s, has to be the cherry on top.

SOURCE: Variety