After six months of offers, counter-offers, industry analysts nay-saying the plan and one corporation trying to stymie the whole endeavor, shareholders at The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have finally agreed to the $73.1 billion plan to merge most of the latter company’s media assets with the venerable Burbank conglomerate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
When the deal closes, Disney will own the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio — thought not the physical lot in Century City, California — much of its associated intellectual property and most of Fox’s cable networks and its international assets. 21st Century Fox, or “New Fox” as it will be called, will retain its major cable sports networks, the FOX broadcast network, Fox Business Network and, of course, its wildly popular cable news channel. The deal also includes the transfer of Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu, making Disney the majority shareholder in the streaming platform.
Word of the proposed merger first broke in the Fall, with Disney and Fox formally announcing the plan in December of last year. At the time, both companies excepted the deal to close this December, but rival suitor Comcast, who also bid for the Fox assets, re-emerged as a competitor in late Spring to Disney with a larger cash offer. Disney raised its cash and stock offer to $73.1 billion, with Comcast bowing out last week. It is unclear if the three-week delay in shareholder approval caused by Comcast’s counter-offer will delay the original timetable.
In a statement, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “[We] are confident in our ability to create significant long-term value through this acquisition of Fox’s premier assets.”
The combined Disney and Fox assets will be transferred to a new holding company known as “New Disney.” When the merger finally closes, Fox shareholders will own 17-20% of the new Disney company.
For fans of comic book-based entertainment, the deal also means Marvel IP held by 20th Century Fox will eventually become part of Marvel Studios, though studio chief Kevin Feige has always evaded questions about integrating the Fantastic Four and the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Considering ownership of the IP will not transfer until sometime next year, do not expect to see a recast Wolverine in the MCU until 2021 at the earliest.