Disney and Fox confirm deal

$52.4bn deal could transform the film industry

by Jennie Kermode

Film studios to change hands in multi billion dollar deal
Film studios to change hands in multi billion dollar deal Photo: Brett Hondow

After weeks of speculation, it was finally confirmed today that Disney will be purchasing most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4bn. Current Fox owner Rupert Murdoch will also receive a 4.25% stake in Disney.

The deal will see Disney take control of the 21st Century Fox film studios, the National Geographic brand, FX, and Fox's regional sports networks, as well as acquiring assets in Hulu and 39% of Sky. Murdoch had spent several years on a bid to take a controlling stake in Sky but faced delays due to an investigation by European regulatory bodies before running into further complications with the Competition Commission in the UK. If he does succeed in purchasing the rest of Sky before negotiations are finalised around the end of June, ownership of the remaining portion will also pass to Disney, giving it complete control.

In the process, Disney also gains control of the X-men franchise, Avatar and The Simpsons.

Pivotal to the deal has been Murdoch's son James, who has been the prime mover in 21st Century Fox for some time. Others on the Fox board have reportedly been seeking to separate the company from other Murdoch assets for some time, due to the perceived toxicity of the newspaper brand in the aftermath of revelations emerging at the time of the Leveson Inquiry in 2011 and 2012.

"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 Disney's Bob Iger in a statement.

The deal will be subject to regulatory approval, a process which is expected to take until July 2019 to complete.

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