Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. will make final bids for International Family Entertainment Inc. early this week, but already the price has risen to an eye-popping $1.8 billion, sources said.
News Corp. is thought to have an edge in the bidding, but sources said Friday that Disney remained a strong contender. An unexpected bidder, Viacom Inc., which quietly took a look at IFE in recent weeks, is believed to have withdrawn. Neither Viacom nor Disney would comment Friday, and a News Corp. representative couldn't be reached for comment.
The contest has driven up the price sharply. News Corp. was earlier reported to have been bidding about $28 a share but the $1.8-billion price suggests the final price will be at least $37 a share. IFE stock jumped $2 last week to close at $27.87 after reports surfaced that Disney was considering making a bid of at least $30 a share.