In early November, it was reported that Disney was in talks to acquire a significant portion of 21st Century Fox, including its movie and TV studios. This was significant for numerous reasons, not the least of which being that Disney would obtain the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and other properties, as well as ownership of major film and TV franchises like Avatar, Alien, Planet of the Apes, The Simpsons, and Modern Family. Today, the deal was made official.
Under terms of the deal, Disney will pay Fox shareholders $52.4 billion in stock as well as assume $13.7 billion of the company’s debt, for a total transaction value of $66.1 billion. At the request of Disney’s and Fox’s board of directors, Bob Iger has agreed to continue as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company through the end of calendar year 2021.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Iger in a statement. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”
Negotiations between Disney and Fox ramped up earlier this week, when Comcast, the NBC owner, announced it was no longer interest in bidding on Fox. And, on Wednesday, CNBC reported that Disney and Fox were on a “glide path” towards a Thursday announcement. Sources say Rupert Murdoch favored the Disney deal over Comcast as he and his family preferred Walt’s shares over Comcast’s stock. BBC also notes that the deal with Disney would “face fewer US regulatory hurdles.”
As part of the deal, Disney will also aquire Hulu, which will no doubt be instrumental in the development of Disney’s own streaming platform intended for launch in 2019.
Disney will also obtain FX Networks, National Geographic, and Fox Sports Regional Networks. The deal does not include Fox broadcast network, Fox News or Fox Sports, all of which will remain under the Murdoch family’s control. Somewhere, Donald Trump breathes a sigh of relief.