In Brief

Disney agrees £39bn deal for 21st Century Fox assets

Sale ends more than half a century of expansion by media mogul Rupert Murdoch

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy select assets of 21st Century Fox in a $52.4bn (£39bn) deal that could reshape the media industry.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch will sign over Fox’s 39% stake in broadcaster Sky to Disney, along with a host of other “significant assets” including  “the studios that produce the blockbuster Marvel superhero pictures and the Avatar franchise, and TV shows such as The Simpsons”, says Reuters.

In addition, Disney wants to purchase the Star India TV network, and pay-TV channels including FX and National Geographic, Bloomberg adds.

The mega-deal is likely to require the stamp of US antitrust regulators. If approved, the move will strengthen Disney’s streaming and television businesses, according to The Wall Street Journal. It will also help the entertainment giant “fend off” digital rivals such as Netflix, says CNN.

Fox’s remaining assets, including the controversial Fox News channel, will be spun off to form a new company, the BBC reports.

The sale marks an “epic downsizing” for Rupert Murdoch, 86, who has been expanding his media empire since the age of 22, when he inherited an Australian newspaper from his father, Bloomberg says.

It also occurs “against a backdrop of swift changes to the industry’s finances and uncertainty about succession plans at both companies”, says the NPR website.

There is speculation that Murdoch’s son James, 45, may eventually move to Disney, Bloomberg says. Under the terms of the deal, Disney CEO Bob Iger will remain at the combined company until 2021.

Fox is still trying to acquire the 61% of European broadcaster Sky that it doesn’t already own - which would end up in Disney’s hands - but that, too, needs to be approved by competition authorities. The UK Competition and Markets Authority is expected to publish its provisional findings in January.  

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