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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Comcast is preparing to announce a bid for 21st Century Fox on Wednesday if the AT&T-Time Warner deal is approved, sources tell CNBCand others.

Why it matters: Fox initially rejected a higher bid from Comcast, fearing regulatory hurdles that come with a vertical merger, according to SEC filings. But if AT&T's merger with Time Warner is allowed, Fox may have reason to consider a higher bid from Comcast.

Be smart: Generally speaking, there hasn’t been as much of a regulatory fuss over a Disney merger as there would be over a Comcast merger, and Fox execs have vocalized support for Disney as a merger partner over Comcast. This could be Fox trying to play the cards it’s been dealt.

Some analysts think that even if the vertical merger were to go through, and Fox were to continue with the Disney deal, there could still be some regulatory issues, like the number of regional sports networks (RSNs) Fox would be giving to Disney — which owns ESPN — and the amount of leverage the combined company would have to increase carriage costs on movie theaters.

"We continue to be surprised how little regulatory concern investors have over a Disney/Fox combination given what appears to be an extraordinarily high combined share of box office — IP consolidation is a leading reason for the deal but it appears to leave a problematic concentration of power as Disney would be more than 4x the size of #2 Warner Bros."
Rich Greenfield, Media Analyst BTIG

Disney has already offered, per its merger agreement, to divest regional sports networks if regulators require it. (Comcast owns RSNs, which could mean the same problem would likely exist as a part of a Comcast bid, too.)

  • And John Fithian, President and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, has indicated support for the merger. “So, on a global scale, Disney getting bigger means broader support for the cinema experience in many ways.”
  • Even the DOJ’s antitrust chief Makan Delrahim has said that Fox carved its assets “surgically” to allow for a Disney merger to go through.

Bottom line: Nothing's a sure bet. And no matter what the outcome for the AT&T/Time Warner deal, regulators will still have to evaluate this deal and every other on its own, regardless of precedents set by other similarly structured — but different — deals.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Trudeau's Liberals set to form minority government after Canada election win

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government was reelected for a third term in Monday's parliamentary elections, but preliminary results show it failed to win a majority.

Why it matters: Trudeau has governed Canada with a minority of legislative support in parliament for the past two years. Last month, he called for an election two years earlier than scheduled in the hope of forming a majority government.

DOJ urges Supreme Court not to overturn Roe v Wade

Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Sept. 9 news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice sought permission Monday to present oral arguments when the Supreme Court hears a case challenging Mississippi's strict abortion law, as it called on justices to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: The two briefs, filed by acting solicitor general Brian Fletcher, mark the latest attempt by President Biden's DOJ to "protect the legal right to an abortion," per the New York Times, which first reported on the court filings.

4 hours ago - World

Reports: CIA director's team member reported Havana Syndrome symptoms

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Bill Burns during a House Intelligence Committee hearing in April on Capitol Hill. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

A member of CIA director Bill Burns' team who traveled with him to India this month was treated for "symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome," CNN first reported Monday.

Why it matters: Current and former officials told the New York Times the incident signals a "possible escalation" in the mysterious neurological symptoms affecting as many as 200 Americans who've worked in overseas posts since 2016.