Disney finally closes its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox

At long last, Disney has completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets.

With the deal wrapped up, Disney will take over ownership of 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, cable networks FX, FXX and National Geographic, and certain cable and international television assets. Disney also acquires Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu, giving it majority control. The new assets should strengthen Disney’s position as a content behemoth, especially as it launches Disney+ later this year, its own streaming competitor to Netflix.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us–one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

Meanwhile, what’s left of 21st Century Fox will be a portfolio of news, sports and broadcast businesses formed into a new company called Fox Corporation. These include Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports (including cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network) and its local TV stations. That new company debuted on the NASDAQ Stock Market on Tuesday under the symbol “FOXA.”

Disney will now have to start what figures to be an arduous process of merging the two giant companies, which is expected to result in massive layoffs. The company has already set some of its senior leadership under the new structure, which include Peter Rice and Dana Walden coming over from Fox.

Walden will serve as chairman of the newly-named Disney Television Studios, which encompasses ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21. Under Walden, John Landgraf and Gary E. Knell will serve as chairmen of FX and Nat Geo Partners, respectively, while Ben Sherwood, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, will leave the company.

On the film side, Emma Watts, as well as several other Fox film executives, will make the move to Disney’s studio entertainment management team. Watts will report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn and will serve as vice chairman for 20th Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairmen for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn, along with Elizabeth Gabler, who will serve as president of production at Fox 2000. Current Fox film CEO Stacey Snider will not be joining the new company; many in the industry believe she’s a candidate to eventually take over Warner Bros. following the sudden exit of CEO Kevin Tsujihara on Monday.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06: Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger speaks onstage during 'North Meets SouthÂBridging Silicon Valley and Hollywood' at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07: LACMA Trustee Willow Bay (L) and the Walt Disney Company chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger attend the LACMA Art + Film Gala honoring Alejandro G. Iñárritu and James Turrell and presented by Gucci at LACMA on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 12: Television host Kelly Ripa and Bob Iger pose with her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 12, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06: (L-R) Willow Bay, Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger and filmmaker George Lucas attend the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Robert 'Bob' Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co., left, and his wife Willow Bay, arrive at a state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The U.S. and China announced agreement on broad anti-hacking principles aimed at stopping the theft of corporate trade secrets though President Barack Obama pointedly said he has not ruled out invoking sanctions for violators. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15: The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger took part today in 'Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios' presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15: (L-R) The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger and actor Harrison Ford and director J.J. Abrams of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS took part today in 'Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios' presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger speaks about the new Shanghai Disney Resort during a press event in Shanghai on July 15, 2015. US entertainment giant Disney gave the first detailed preview to the media for its planned theme park in Shanghai, promising Chinese features and new attractions unlike its five other resorts, executives said. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Robert 'Bob' Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co., speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2015. The conference brings together hundreds of chief executive officers, senior government officials and leading figures in the global capital markets for discussions on social, political and economic challenges. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 01: (L-R) Chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger, actress Lily James and Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, Alan Horn attend the premiere of Disney's 'Cinderella' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 1, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger (R) and TV personality Willow Bay attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - May 2: Actor Billy Crystal and Disney CEO Bob Iger attend Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 2, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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During its annual shareholder meeting on March 7, Iger confirmed they’ll keep the Fox name on at least some of its newly-acquired assets. “We will continue to make the movies under the Fox brand and Fox Searchlight brand. FX will keep its name too.”

The acquisition of Fox’s film studio also means that key Marvel properties — including the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four — are finally back under Marvel Studio’s control, as the comic book powerhouse charts its course after next month’s “Avengers: Endgame.” That film is widely expected to be the last movie for some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s key actors including Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.

Other key Fox properties that Disney now owns include the “Avatar” and “Alien” franchises, and TV series “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

Hulu will become part of Disney’s three-pronged effort in the streaming arena, to go along with the upcoming Disney+ and the sports offering ESPN+, which launched last April and has already surpassed 2 million paid subscribers. Hulu figures to be the home for most of the Fox programming assets that don’t fit under Disney’s family-friendly brand. This will be the first the streaming service is majority owned by a single company, with Comcast and WarnerMedia collectively owning the other 40 percent (though both are launching their own streaming services within the next two years).

Disney now has 90 days to find a buyer for the 22 regional sports networks it gained from Fox, which was part of its agreement with the Department of Justice to sign off on the deal. Known bidders for the networks include MLB, Amazon, TEGNA and Sinclair Broadcasting. Disney already sold one of them, when the New York Yankees — along with Amazon and Sinclair – reportedly agreed to buy the YES Network.

Fox and Disney had originally agreed on a $54.2 billion all-stock deal in Dec. of 2017, before Comcast offered an unsolicited bid in an attempt to outflank Disney, which eventually upped its offer by almost $20 billion in a cash-stock split. Fox’s stake in European pay-TV company Sky PLC was supposed to be part of the deal, but Comcast ended up out-bidding Fox for control of the company. Fox, with Disney’s sign-off, eventually sold its stake to Comcast.

Read original story Disney Finally Closes Its $71.3 Billion Acquisition of 21st Century Fox At TheWrap

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