The drama of the Disney/Fox merger continues.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have set a July 10th date to allow shareholders to vote on the proposed merger. If the vote is successful, the $52.4 billion deal will see Disney acquiring most of 21st Century Fox’s media assets, including 20th Century Fox, its cable offerings and its international cable concerns. It will also end up with the film and television rights to Marvel Entertainment assets like the X-Men and The Fantastic Four.
The deal, which appeared to be secure when it was first announced last year, still has a number of hurdles in front of it. Besides regulatory scrutiny like the sort facing the AT&T/TimeWarner merger, Comcast has returned as a suitor for the Fox assets with an “all cash” bid higher than Disney’s $52 billion dollar trade in cash and stock. The company previously made offers for the assets, but was considered a poor fit because of the company’s primary nature as a cable provider; making the regulatory approval less likely.
Nonetheless, Fox owes the shareholders the right to look at Comcast’s offer and may postpone the vote until major stake players have time to review the offer and merger details under the Comcast scheme. It is currently unclear what penalty the company will face should it not merge with Disney, but it is possible that penalty will be viewed as favorable in light of Comcast’s bid.
What this means for the one element of the merger many are excited about — Disney returning the Marvel properties to Marvel Entertainment — is really anyone’s guess. Comcast’s major interest in the Fox assets circles around its international cable holdings, particularly its stake in British cable provider Sky. Marvel is a relatively minor concern, though it should be noted Comcast’s Universal theme parks make use of the Marvel characters and may have some interest in holding onto them. Securing the X-Men could be good for that division’s long-term strategy.
But for the moment, the vote is still set for July 10th; a day which will prove to be interesting no matter the outcome.