UPDATE: At 12:02AM ET, one of the most consequential mergers in Hollywood history became official. The Walt Disney Co. has acquired about two-thirds of 21st Century Fox, altering the entertainment landscape at a time of dramatic change.
For $71.3 billion, Disney has acquired a range of film and TV assets including the Fox film and TV studio, cable powerhouse FX Networks, National Geographic, international assets like Star India and a 30% stake in Hulu. The deal represents a significant bet on streaming, as Disney CEO Bob Iger has spoken since first proposing the transaction about how it will stock Disney’s planned direct-to-consumer streaming service with a more enticing array of properties. Avatar, X-Men, Deadpool and other Fox franchises will now stand shoulder to shoulder with Marvel characters, Star Wars and Pixar animated creations.
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PREVIOUSLY: Hours before their asset combination closed, Disney and Fox released the per-share value of the deal and offered a final blessing by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who called the deal “an extraordinary and historic moment for us.”
Disney’s billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox becomes official at 12:02AM ET. Today, the slimmed-down, TV-centric concern officially known as Fox Corp. began trading on the NASDAQ, slipping 3% in its first outing.
After the close of trading, the two companies announced the per-share value of the merger will be $51.572626. That means each share of 21st Century Fox common stock will be exchanged for $51.572626 in cash or 0.4517 shares of common stock of the holding company that will own both Disney and the Fox assets being acquired.
Disney’s stock price, which was steady through the day, plunged in the final hour of trading to finish at $110, down nearly 3%. It has largely remained steady in the months since Disney and Fox shareholders approved the transaction last July 27. After proposing the deal in December 2017, stunning many observers who had no inkling that the Murdochs would consider selling off Fox entertainment assets, Disney then outdueled Comcast in a bidding war for Fox. Comcast wound up with full control of pay-TV giant Sky.
“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us—one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
Disney is also acquiring approximately $19.8 billion of cash and assuming approximately $19.2 billion of debt of 21st Century Fox in the acquisition.
The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Disney earnings per share before the impact of purchase accounting for the second fiscal year after the close of the transaction. It will yield at least $2 billion in cost synergies by 2021 from operating efficiencies realized through the combination of businesses, the company predicts. The job losses, in order to achieve those synergies, are expected to number in the thousands.
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