Walt Disney is zeroing in on Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a deal that would reshape Murdoch’s News Corporation, Hollywood and the rapidly digitizing global media industry.
The all-share deal valuing 21st Century Fox could be announced this week.
The deal would add Fox’s movie and TV studio, networks including FX and National Geographic, and international assets including Star India’s TV channels and a 39 percent stake in European satellite provider Sky Plc.
21st Century Fox would keep Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 and the speculation is that these would be spun off into a new company.
Or they could be rolled into News Corp.
The key issues now being hammered out are the total price paid by Disney and the future of Fox Chief Executive Officer James Murdoch who is expected to be offered a senior position at Disney after the transaction closes, putting him in the running as a candidate to eventually succeed Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The other key issue to be addressed are the regulatory issues in the wake of the Justice Department opposing the AT&T-Time Warner merger. Time Warner owns CNN, the network that US president Donald Trump despises.
“It is likely to face serious hurdles,” Erik Gordon, professor at the Ross School of Business at Michigan University told the Financial Times. “Disney already is the second-largest media giant. Mergers of media giants are likely to face even more scrutiny than mergers in other industries.”
The Murdochs — Rupert and his sons Lachlan and James — sent an email to employees late last week with speculation mounting that the deal was imminent.
“We want to address the headlines about us possibly talking to other companies about a potential transaction,” the email said. “While we can’t comment on market speculation, we do want to address the impact we know this is having on all of you. Uncertainty always breeds unease. In every way, our focus is on our businesses and on the welfare of all our colleagues.”