By Dana Mattioli , Keach Hagey and Ryan Knutson
New suitors are circling 21st Century Fox Inc., affirming that the media empire built by Rupert Murdoch is now in play.
Comcast Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA +1.36% has approached the media company to express interest in buying a substantial piece of it, according to people familiar with the situation. Verizon Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ +0.68% is also kicking the tires on Fox /zigman2/quotes/209921865/composite FOX +1.59% assets, though a person familiar with its thinking cautioned the exploration was in the early stages. And Sony Corp.’s /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -3.02% entertainment unit has also informally approached Fox, the people familiar with the situation said.
The takeover interest in 21st Century Fox gained steam after news last week that Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.28% recently held talks with the company but failed to reach a deal.
The assets Fox is discussing with potential suitors include the Twentieth Century Fox studio, some U.S. cable networks and the international business. Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and the company’s sports channels haven’t been part of the talks, the people familiar with the situation said.
Any deal would be sizable. 21st Century Fox has a market capitalization of about $54 billion. Fox’s shares rose 8.1% after hours on Thursday, after The Wall Street Journal reported the interest from Comcast and Verizon.
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