Shareholders of 21st Century Fox and Disney met up at the New York Hilton on Friday and have voted in separate meetings in favor of Disney’s $71.3 billion buyouts of major Fox assets that started back in December, which is anticipated to have important implications in the share market. On this front, Gerson Zweifach, the general counsel of 21st Century Fox, was quoted stating to the Fox shareholders that the merger is to be completed in the first half of 2019, while also praising the historic deal as a transformative transaction that will enable us to unlock significant value for our stockholders.
The short Disney gathering led by Disney general counsel Alan Braverman and CFO Christine McCarthy saw an almost unanimous vote for Disney Fox merger approval of the deal by the shareholders (barring one shareholder), and that too within 10 minutes of its inception.
The Disney Fox deal will give Disney a stake in the control of Fox’s wealth of subsidiaries which comprises its famous film studio, FX Networks, intellectual property, such as X-Men, Avatar, and “The Simpsons”, which is nothing short of gaining the very foothold in the entertainment scene that Disney is aiming at. Furthermore, if reports are to be believed, Disney is planning another big trick up its sleeve, of rolling out a streaming service in 2019, competing with Netflix and Amazon, the rivals of Silicon Valley.
The meetings on Friday bring the much-needed closure to the air of uncertainty that stretched over the last 6 months after Disney stepped into a bidding war with Comcast to acquire Fox. After Disney announced its bid valued at $52.4 billion in Disney stock back in December, Comcast hit back on the bid in June with a higher $65 billion all-cash bid. Not stepping back, Disney put up the current $71.3 billion bid, which was both stock and cash, and that did it as Comcast stepped down from the bidding by deciding to reorient its focus on British media giant Sky instead, which was exactly what Disney wanted.
Fox has a 39.14% stake in Sky and is still working its way through to increase the rest of its ownership stake, fuelling yet another bidding war with Comcast, which is currently leading the chase with a bid of $34 billion. However, irrespective of the Sky’s bidding fate, the Disney and Fox merger is almost sealed as it is expected to go through in all probability.
On a positive note, the U.S. Justice Department approved of the deal last month subject to the underlying condition that Disney sells off Fox’s regional sports networks that are rivals to Disney’s ESPN, which is to place Disney one notch higher than Fox in the entertainment industry. Next in line are the pending approvals needed by Disney from international territories, such as China and the European Union.
Combining the 21CF businesses with Disney and establishing new ‘Fox’ will unlock significant value for our shareholders. We are grateful to our shareholders for approving this transaction. I want to thank all of our executives and colleagues for their enormous contributions in building 21st Century Fox over the past decades. With their help, we expect the enlarged Disney and new ‘Fox’ companies will be pre-eminent in the entertainment and media industries. – Disney’ Chaiman-CEO Rupert Murdoch
Continuing Murdoch’s positive reflection on the Merger, Chairman-CEO Iger was quoted saying: “We remain grateful to Rupert Murdoch and to the rest of the 21st Century Fox board for entrusting us with the future of these extraordinary businesses, and look forward to welcoming 21st Century Fox’s stellar talent to Disney and ultimately integrating our businesses to provide consumers around the world with more appealing content and entertainment options.”
This Disney Fox deal might significantly change the scenario of entertainment and mass media if it manages to click through, and as entertainment-hungry fans of both Disney and Fox and the whole gamut of fascinating movies churned up under them, we can’t wait for the deal to seal the fate of entertainment in a redefined version!