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Disney Acquires 20th Century Fox Studios for $52.4 Billion

14 Dec, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Media giant assumes majority control of Hulu; Bob Iger extends CEO position through 2021

As expected The Walt Disney Co. Dec. 14 announced it would be acquiring 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses in a massive deal worth $52.4 billion in stock.

The transaction must clear regulatory hurdles — not a sure thing considering the Department of Justice's recently filed lawsuit to block the AT&T/Time Warner merger. 

“Given the size of the acquisition, it will raise eyebrows in Washington,” Gene Del Vecchio, a marketing professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, told The Los Angeles Times.

Fox corporate retains control of Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network.

Disney CEO Bob Iger will remain in his position, including chairman of the board, through 2021. Iger was supposed to retire for the third time in July 2019.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Iger said in a statement.

Specifically, Disney acquires 20th Century Fox (including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000. Movie assets include the The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hidden Figures, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water and The Martian, among other titles.

With the deal, movie rights to Marvel Comics properties such as the "X-Men," "Fantastic Four" and "Deadpool" franchises will return to Disney-owned Marvel Studios. Disney would also acquire James Cameron's "Avatar" franchise as well, having already partnered with the filmmaker to create "Avatar"-themed attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort.

In addition, Disney for the first time would have full distribution rights over the "Star Wars" films since its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012. As a result of production deals with George Lucas to make the first film in the franchise, Fox had retained the rights to the 1977 original Star Wars in perpetuity, meaning any home video re-releases of the franchise that included the original film had to be coordinated between the two studios.

TV units include 20th Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21, which produce “The Americans,” “This Is Us,” “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” among other shows.

Disney also acquires FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks and Fox Networks Group International, in addition to Hulu, Tata Sky and syndication giant Endemol Shine Group.

Disney would become the majority owner of Hulu and Hulu TV. The transaction also includes international properties such as Star India and Fox’s 39% ownership of satellite TV operator Sky in Europe. If Fox completes its acquisition of Sky prior to the closing of the transaction, Disney would assume 100% ownership of Sky, including outstanding debt.

Sky reaches about 23 million homes in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Fox Networks International operates 350 channels in 170 countries, and Star India operates 69 channels reaching 720 million viewers in more 100 countries. 



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