Walt Disney has announced it will buy 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for a total of $52.4bn (£39bn).
The deal includes the addition of Fox’s 39% stake in satellite broadcaster Sky, and the 20th Century film studio. Disney will assume approximately $13.7bn of net debt belonging to 21st Century Fox.
The new Fox that will be formed, will include the controversial Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and several sports cable networks. The essential element is that Disney will now be able to diversify its revenue, which is particularly important given US cable television subscribers are declining. Disney will have access to an estimated 46 million subscribers in three major markets – the US, Western Europe and India.
Disney’s Chief Executive Bob Iger, whose contract has been extended until 2021, has said that Disney is “incredibly excited” about the acquisition. He went on to say the merger is an “opportunity to expand iconic franchises” including Avatar and Star Wars.
The massive deal now marks the end of more than half a century of media expansion by Fox owner Rupert Murdoch. The 86-year-old turned a small Australian newspaper he inherited from his father into one of the world’s largest news and film enterprises. It was expected he would hand over his various businesses to his sons James and Lachlan. However, James Murdoch has been widely tipped to be given a senior role at Disney.