Coverage: Disney and 21st Century Fox near a deal
Walt Disney Co. and Twenty-First Century Fox are closing in on a deal, and it could come as soon as next week, with one of Rupert Murdoch’s sons in line to become the next CEO of Disney.
David Faber of CNBC had the news:
The deal contemplates the sale of Fox’s Nat Geo, Star, regional sports networks, movie studios and stakes in Sky and Hulu, among other properties. What would remain at Fox includes its news and business news divisions, broadcast network and Fox sports.
The enterprise value of the Fox assets in the Disney deal is seen as above $60 billion, according to sources. Current Fox shareholders would get one share of the Fox company that remains after the movie and television assets are sold plus shares of Disney in a fixed exchange ratio.
Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox finished Tuesday little changed, while shares of Disney fell 2.7 percent Tuesday. Shares of Comcast declined 2 percent.
Cynthia Littleton of Variety reports that James Murdoch could get a top slot at Disney as part of the deal:
Murdoch took the stage at the investor confab about an hour after CNBC reported that Fox is closing in on a $60 billion deal with Disney to sell its film and TV studio, FX and Nat Geo cable networks, regional Fox Sports networks, and other key assets. Murdoch wouldn’t budge when pressed to comment on the report. 21st Century Fox has yet to formally make a statement on rumors of sale talks with both Disney and Comcast that have swirled in recent weeks.
“There’s nothing to add to that other than the nothing we’ve said so far,” Murdoch said. He did allow that the company has an obligation to consider options for its assets in a changing marketplace.
“Changing the shape of the business is always going to (be considered in terms of) what is going to create the most value to all of our shareholders,” he said.
Later in the 45-minute Q&A, Murdoch obliquely referred to the Disney sale prospect in discussing how the Fox broadcast network would operate if it were no longer connected to the 20th Century Fox Television production unit.
Maury Brown of Forbes.com reported that such a deal could help Disney’s ESPN:
In terms of ESPN, the purchase of the regional sports networks is compelling.
According to FOX Sports, these RSNs air 5,500 live events each year and serving as the home town television outlets to 44 MLB, NHL, and NBA teams. FOX Sports’ nationwide roster of 22 regional sports networks includes FOX Sports Arizona, FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports Detroit, FOX Sports Florida, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports New Orleans, FOX Sports North, FOX Sports Ohio, FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports San Diego, FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Southeast, FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Sun, FOX Sports Tennessee, FOX Sports West, FOX Sports Wisconsin, FOX Sports Prime Ticket, SportsTime Ohio, and the YES Network.
If Disney completes the deal, all the live sports content driven out of the RSNs seems destined for ESPN.