Walt Disney Company to Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox For $52.4 Billion
posted Sunday Dec 17, 2017 by Scott Ertz
After months of speculation, and several interested parties, the competition for Twenty-First Century Fox has come to the end, with The Walt Disney Company coming out as the new owner. The company will be paying $52.4 billion in Disney shares for the majority of the existing company. Remaining with the former owners will be the news and sports businesses, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, and FS2. Those pieces will be spun off into a new corporation, cleverly named "Fox." Rupert Murdoch intends to eventually re-integrate these properties into News Corp.
The rest of the company will become a part of Disney, including the film rights to already Disney-owned X-Men, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer and Deadpool, as well as Avatar, which Disney recently integrated into their Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida. In addition, the company will be in charge of major franchises, such as The Simpsons.
As well as content, Disney will receive distribution, in the form of FX, FFX, National Geographic and regional sports networks. The regional networks can be brought under the ESPN brand, expanding Disney's already heavy focus on sports, but bringing their knowledge to local teams. Disney will also take control of Fox's interests in Star TV, Sky and, most importantly, Hulu. Combined with their existing stake in the company, Disney will have a 60% controlling interest in the popular streaming service.
Having a controlling interest in Hulu could change the company's announced intentions to create their own Disney-branded streaming service, which would serve only Disney-branded content. They could decide to, instead, place their content into Hulu, possibly making a Disney package, similar to Hulu's existing Showtime package. The combined content and distribution of Hulu can help Disney compete against Netflix's pledged goal of original content over the next few years.
All of this hinges on regulatory approval. Several US and foreign government agencies will have to sign off on the merger. If it is not approved, for any reason, then Disney will still keep Fox's existing interest in Sky in Europe. If it is approved, one condition of the sale is for Disney CEO Bob Iger to remain past his planned retirement to oversee the integration of the companies, extending his tenure into 2021.