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U.S. gives Disney-Fox deal antitrust approval

28 June 2018

The Wrap reports that The Walt Disney Company has earned the approval of the United States Department of Justice to acquire most of 21st Century Fox's film and television assets, including the 20th Century Fox film studio and its library of movie properties, networks like FX and FXX, Fox's one-third stake in Hulu, and more.

Rupert Murdoch, whose family controls 17 percent of Fox shares, is believed to heavily prefer the Disney deal because of the stock factor, which would give him a position in the entertainment giant as well as limit, if not eliminate, his tax liability.

Disney agreed to divest the 22 sports networks in order to get regulatory approval after the Justice Department argued that the companies purchase of Fox's regional sports networks could result in higher prices for sports programming on cable.

The settlement clears a major hurdle for Disney and Fox, but they still must maneuver antitrust laws around the globe before the merger can be finalized.

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The $71 billion sale would include 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and worldwide properties.

Disney and Comcast have traded jabs over which bid would face an easier path to regulatory approval, an important consideration for Fox stockholders, who must weigh which deal to accept.

The Fox sale to Disney would include 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, cable entertainment networks, and worldwide properties including Star in India and Fox's 39-percent ownership of Sky across Europe. This is due to Disney already owning ESPN and its system of satellite affiliates, which are in direct competition with Fox's regional assets that reach some 88 million American subscribers.

Fox has the option to consider other offers and Comcast could raise its bid. Disney would assume $14 billion in Fox debt. The settlement must first be approved by a federal judge, and Fox's shareholders also have to vote in favor of the deal.

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The deal does not include the nationally broadcast Fox News, Fox Business or Fox Sports networks.

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U.S. gives Disney-Fox deal antitrust approval