Disney agrees to buy key assets of 21st Century Fox in $52.4 billion deal

FP Staff

Dec 15, 2017 08:35:55 IST

Walt Disney Co. agreed on 14 December to buy key film and television assets of 21st Century Fox, in a $52.4 billion deal that bolsters the media-entertainment powerhouse's challenge to Netflix and emerging rivals in the streaming wars.

Walt Disney Company Los Angeles. AP

Walt Disney Company Los Angeles. AP

The blockbuster stock transaction also vastly reduces the Fox media empire built by Rupert Murdoch, leaving the 86-year-old tycoon and his two sons with a more tightly focused group which includes the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and sports channels.

According to Business Standard, The deal will also fundamentally change Indian TV's landscape as primary channels such as the entire business of Star India will be transferred to Disney. The 20 per cent share that Murdoch had in Tata Sky, will also go to Disney. This means that the channel will go from being a primarily children's channel to the country's largest media broadcaster. The acquisition means that all star channels, ranging from sports to hotstar, will now come under Disney, reports Business Standard. The country's current business is valued at $11 billion to $14 billion, which means that India's business constituted was a major chunk of the amount involved in the deal.

The same report also suggests that the structure of the business venture now, will depend upon the role that Murdoch plays. Another result of the merger on the Indian market is that there won't be "regulatory issues" around it.

The deal was quickly hailed by US President Donald Trump, who congratulated Murdoch — in stark contrast to his administration's opposition to a tie-up between AT&T and Time Warner.

It will see Disney acquire the vaunted Fox Hollywood film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses, bringing popular entertainment properties including X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons, FX Networks and National Geographic into Disney's portfolio.

"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 chief executive Robert Iger in a statement.

Iger, who was previously expected to step down in 2019, will now stay on through 2021.

Disney's move to acquire the Fox library of content is seen as a bid to bolster its arsenal against Netflix and Amazon as well as emerging tech players such as Facebook and Apple, which are cashing in on a move towards streaming services and away from traditional pay TV packages.

Disney, which owns the ABC television network, ESPN and has major studios in Hollywood, has been preparing to launch its own streaming service.

Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters: "I know that the president spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal, and thinks that — to use one of the president's favorite words — that this could be a great thing for jobs."

With inputs from AP.

Updated Date: Dec 15, 2017 08:47:21 IST