The deal for Fox’s entertainment businesses is likely to shake up the media landscape. Among other things, it paves the way for Disney to launch its streaming service, Disney Plus, due out later this year. It will also likely lead to layoffs in the thousands, thanks to duplication in Fox and Disney film-production staff.
A new era for the Murdoch clan and the media business begins with the debut of Fox Corp. on Tuesday, a day before Disney completes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The new-model Fox will begin trading Tuesday on the NASDAQ under the FOXA symbol. On Tuesday, 21st Century Fox will initiate a complex transfer of the Fox Corp. assets — primarily Fox News, Fox Sports, and Fox Broadcasting — to the newly created Fox Corp.
Thirty-four years ago, Rupert Murdoch showed up in Hollywood with $250 million, buying a stake in the 20th Century Fox film studio – even though he had little interest in making movies. The scrappy Australian newsman, then known for his clamorous tabloids, was viewed with suspicion. Skeptics assumed he was a corporate raider intent on stripping value from the studio. Instead, Murdoch rescued a threadbare operation from financial ruin and turned it into the centerpiece of a growing empire that has reshaped the entertainment industry. Now, Murdoch is dismantling his life’s work: a kingdom worth more than $100 billion.
Disney has set a March 20 closing date for the acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The date was included in a release in which Disney indicated that the company has received the last major approval for the deal from regulators in Mexico. According to Disney, 21st Century Fox shareholders will have until Thursday to choose the amount of cash and Disney stock to receive in the $71.3 billion transaction.
Walt Disney Co.’s entertainment kingdom is about to get a whole lot bigger thanks to its pending purchase of 21st Century Fox assets, and the rest of Hollywood has only just begun to grapple with the consequences of the company’s increasing power.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the company “chose to deal with privately” with the past incidents of current Disney employees Jimmy Kimmel and Joy Behar darkening their skin, both of which have resurfaced in recent months. Those issues were brought up at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.
Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told the studio’s annual shareholders meeting that the combined company will “hit the ground running” when the industry-rattling merger is completed.
There’s a lot of fear in the offices that comprise Rupert Murdoch’s and Bob Iger’s media empires. There have been mergers in Hollywood before. But the marriage of Fox and Disney is uncharted territory in the media landscape. There’s rarely been an acquisition of this size or a union of two such storied brands with distinct cultures. Disney, with its buttoned-down air, is far removed from the more Darwinian approach to management long favored by Fox.
The company is cutting an annual base salary increase of $500,000 that Iger was set to receive when the Fox deal closes and maintains his current base of $3 million. It cuts the annual bonus he was set to receive by $8 million to $12 million. It also cut his annual target long-term incentive award by $5 million to $20 million.
Disney took a big step closer to completing its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Foxwith Brazil’s conditional approval of the deal Wednesday. In an agreement with Brazil’s antitrust agency, Disney will sell the Fox Sports cable channel that serves the largest media market in South America. Brazilian regulators focused on Disney’s ownership of ESPN and Fox Sports as giving it too much power over sports rights and related deals.