Asked at UBS’ annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City to comment about the “elephant in the room” — reports of an imminent sale — Murdoch demurred.
“It would be wrong to comment on market speculation, on what’s out there in the press,” said Murdoch. “So no, there’s nothing to add to that, other than the nothing that we’ve said so far.”
Murdoch did add that the company is always working to “create the most value for shareholders.”
Deadline reported last week that talks were heating up between Disney and Fox after reaching an impasse over price. The Burbank-based entertainment conglomerate is interested in acquiring Fox’s film and television studio, a number of cable television networks, its 39% stake in UK satellite television provider Sky and India’s Star TV, as well as its 30% share of the Hulu streaming service.
Fox would retain its stake in the top-rated Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and its FS1 sports network.
Shares of 21st Century Fox rose 73 cents to $28.85 in midday trading after CNBC reported this morning that a deal could be announced as early as next week. Disney shares fell $3.29 in midday trading to $106.95.
The network cited sources as saying the enterprise value of the Fox assets in the Disney deal could exceed $60 billion. Current Fox shareholders would get one share of the Fox company that remains after the movie and TV assets are sold plus shares of Disney in a fixed exchange ratio.
Reuters is reporting that while Disney is in the lead for Fox, there are several issues yet to be resolved and Comcast remains in contention. The newly resurgent Sony also is interested in the Fox assets, positioning itself as the safe path from a regulatory perspective, according to sources.
A combined Disney and Fox would command a roughly 30% share of the domestic theatrical market, according to data from BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Fox would bring any acquiring party such successful entertainment brands as the long-running television animated series The Simpsons, and lucrative film properties including X-Men and Avatar, as well as broader international distribution.