The Walt Disney Company has agreed to purchase a large chunk of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s (pictured) Twenty-First Century Fox for approximately US$52.4 billion.
The agreement includes Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses. Disney has also picked up networks FX, Star India and National Geographic, and Fox’s stake in both Hulu and Europe media behemoth Sky.
Before the merger, Twenty-First Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company.
Disney chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger has agreed to continue in his role through until 2021 at the request of both Twenty-First Century Fox and Disney board directors.
“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 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.”
With the addition of Sky, Disney would expand its international reach, as the pay-TV service reaches nearly 23 million households in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Fox Networks International alone reaches more than 350 channels in 170 countries; and Star India, which operates 69 channels reaching 720 million viewers a month across India and more than 100 other countries.
Prior to the close of the transaction, Twenty-First Century Fox will seek to complete is acquistion of the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own. Subject to regulatory approval, it’s hoped the transaction will close by June 30, 2018. If the acquisition of Sky is completed before the transaction is closed, Disney would assume full ownership of Sky, including its debt before closing.
The boards of directors of Disney and 21st Century Fox have approved the transaction, which is subject to shareholder approval by 21st Century Fox and Disney shareholders, the U.S government and various non-U.S. merger regulatory reviews.