Disney buys 21st Century Fox for over €44bn

Deal gives Disney an arsenal of shows and movies to combat digital rivals

Disney chief executive Bob Iger, 66, will extend his tenure through the end of 2021. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Disney chief executive Bob Iger, 66, will extend his tenure through the end of 2021. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

 

Walt Disney has struck a deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox for $52.4 billion (€44.4 billion) in stock, giving the world’s largest entertainment company an arsenal of shows and movies to combat growing digital rivals Netflix and Amazon.com.

The deal brings to a close more than half a century of expansion by Mr Murdoch (86), who turned a single Australian newspaper he inherited from his father at the age of 21 into one of the world’s most important global news and film conglomerates.

The new, slimmed down Fox will focus on TV news and sport. Shares of Fox, which have surged more than 30 per cent since talk of the deal surfaced in early November, climbed 3.2 per cent in early trading.

Disney shares edged slightly higher after the company said it expects to buy up to $20 billion (€17 billion) of its own shares to offset dilution from the all-stock deal.

Fox stockholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each share held and will end up owning about a quarter of Disney.

Global footprint

Under the deal, expected to close in 12 to 18 months, Disney acquires 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, its cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses.

The Fox deal brings marquee franchises like Avatar and The Simpsons inside the Mouse House, on top of Disney chief executive Bob Iger’s previous purchases, including Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm.

Disney’s global footprint also expands with the acquisition of Fox’s international satellite assets, including Star TV network in India and a stake in European pay-TV provider Sky Plc. Immediately before the acquisition, Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, its sports channels FS1, FS2 and the Big Ten Network, into a newly listed company that it will spin off to its shareholders.

Mr Iger (66) will extend his tenure through the end of 2021 to oversee the integration of the Fox businesses. He has already postponed his retirement from Disney three times.

– Reuters