Disney Buying Fox Film, TV Units for $52 Billion in Digital Push

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If Iger sees out his new term, that would rule out a presidential bid in 2020, which had been the subject of some speculation

“This acquisition reflects a changing media landscape, increasingly defined by transforming technology and evolving consumer expectations,” Iger told investors on a conference call.

 

 

He said new technology would be necessary to meet the demands of viewers who want to access content anytime. Fox’s regional sports networks and cable network puts Disney in a better position to sell more shows directly to more consumers, he added.

Disney has been struggling to bolster its TV business as cancellation of cable subscriptions is pressuring its biggest network, sports channel ESPN.

The company plans to launch its own streaming service in 2019, a calculated gamble that it can generate more profit in the long run from its own subscription service rather than renting out movies to services like Netflix.

It is not clear who will head the new Fox. Iger said current Fox CEO James Murdoch, Rupert’s younger son, will help with the transition and that the two will discuss whether he will have a longer-term role at Disney.

 

SKY’S FUTURE

Through Fox’s stake in the Hulu video streaming service, Disney will assume majority control of one of Netflix’s main competitors. Hulu is also partially owned by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Time Warner Inc (TWX.N).

 

 

A majority of antitrust experts contacted by Reuters said the deal would likely win approval from U.S. antitrust authorities, although the U.S. Department of Justice may require asset sales or conditions, they said.

Fox said it remained committed to buying the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own and expects to win regulatory approval from Britain and to close the deal by the end of June, 2018

Britain’s Takeover Panel said Disney had informed the watchdog that should it only buy 39 percent of the company – if Murdoch fails to buy the rest of Sky – it did not think it should be forced to make a full bid for the company. The statement prompted Sky’s stock to fall by 1 percent.

In Britain, any investor acquiring 30 percent of a listed company is automatically forced to make a bid for the rest of the stock. The Takeover Panel said it would seek the opinions of Sky’s independent directors before making a decision.

 

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles, Diane Bartz in Washington, Sheila Dang in New York and Kate Holton in London; Editing by Patrick Graham and Bill Rigby)

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