U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled Tuesday that AT&T could buy Time Warner with no conditions attached, denying a Justice Department antitrust challenge to the deal.
As a result of the ruling, Wall Street analysts are questioning whether Disney will be able to close its announced acquisition of assets from 21st Century Fox due to the seemingly more lenient regulatory environment for mergers.
Disney's stock closed up 1.9 percent Wednesday, after opening lower at the beginning the session. Comcast shares closed down slightly. Traders bid Disney stock higher on the hopes it won't shell out the cash for Fox.
"As we had expected, Judge Leon ruled yesterday that the AT&T … acquisition of Time Warner can proceed, with no conditions. We now expect the deal to close next week," Cowen analyst Doug Creutz said in a note to clients Wednesday. "We also expect this means that Comcast will proceed with a bid for a large portion of FOX's assets, putting the current deal with DIS into question."
Disney in December announced the deal to acquire many parts of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock.
One Wall Street analyst even offered the possibility of Comcast and Disney dividing the Fox assets.
"We would expect Disney to at least match Comcast by adding cash, and Comcast to appease [Rupert] Murdoch's tax concerns by offering stock, and some back and forth raising the deal bid," B. Riley analyst Barton Crockett said in a note to clients Wednesday. "Barring a third entrant (Internet/tech is possible), we would see the most sensible outcome as splitting the baby, with Comcast getting Sky (which we see as its main goal) and Disney getting most of the rest."
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