21st Century Fox Considering Selling Much of Itself to Disney

Peter Castro
November 7, 2017

Disney is in talks to purchase 21st Century Fox, acquiring its slate of original titles and rights to various franchises, according to a CNBC report.

It's said talks have been going on for the past few weeks; however, it is reported the two sides are not now talking at this very moment. A Disney spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the movie studio, TV production and global assets such as Star and BSkyB, Disney would take the entertainment network FX and National Geographic, the report added.

The move is seen as an opportunity for 21st Century Fox to focus on its news and sports operations, while jettisoning its movie studios and television programming. American companies aren't allowed to own two broadcast networks, and buying Fox Sports would raise antitrust questions when Disney already has ESPN under its belt.

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For Fox, reports of a Disney acquisition discussion come amid the company's pursuit of a majority stake in European pay TV operator Sky.

The road to a possible deal is sure to be rocky, but just the hint of it sent shockwaves through the entertainment and business worlds.

The deal would give Disney control of another movie studio and significant TV production assets, and would give it more exposure to worldwide markets. That £11.7bn ($15.41bn) deal has run afoul of regulators' concerns about media plurality in the United Kingdom and the Murdochs' commitment to broadcasting standards. Disney's shares were up 1.2 pct at $99.86 US. At the moment, it's rare for sports to be cited as having a major impact on 21st Century Fox overall; it does occasionally happen, with a Credit Suisse analyst citing declining National Football League ratings and issues over Fox's attempt to buy the rest of Sky as reasons to downgrade the stock last month, but it's not like Disney, where every earnings call becomes a referendum on ESPN.

Fox stock trading was halted when the news first broke.

Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox rose some 7 percent to $26.80 in afternoon trade while Disney was up almost 2 percent to $100.30.

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