The Walt Disney Co. has set a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire 20th Century Fox and other entertainment and sports assets from Rupert Murdoch’s empire. The deal between Disney and 21st Century Fox marks a historic union of Hollywood heavyweights and a bid by Disney to bolster its core TV and film businesses against an onslaught of new competitors in the content arena.
The transaction unveiled early Thursday morning has a total value of $66.1 billion, with Disney assuming $13.7 billion in 21st Century Fox debt. Disney chairman-CEO Bob Igerhas extended his contract with the company through the end of 2021 as a result of the acquisition.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Iger. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”
21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch said: “We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry. Furthermore, I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”
Disney is betting on an ambitious purchase of a sizable chunk of 21st Century Fox, hoping that more cable networks, production studios and other properties will buoy it into the future as it dives into the direct-to-consumer streaming distribution business with sports and entertainment services planned to launch in 2018 and 2019, respectively. To feed those new pipelines, Disney is expanding its content production infrastructure with the…