Disney-Fox Deal Nears Final Approval After Progress In Brazil And Mexico

By Dade Hayes, Dominic Patten

20th Century Fox Disney

In one of the last steps in the regulatory review of Disney’s $71.3 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, regulators in Brazil appear to be poised to approve the transaction on Wednesday.

Officials at CADE (whose translated full name is The Administrative Council for Economic Defense) are said to now be satisfied after Disney offered some of the concessions they had requested. Once their OK is secured, a final closing period of about 10 days will begin as the final Ts are crossed and Is dotted, a source with knowledge of the regulatory process tells Deadline. That would mean an official closing in mid-March, which is in line with initial forecasts even if it is later than it appeared things would conclude by the last few weeks of 2018.

News of the movement with regulators was reported earlier today by Bloomberg, which said a similar agreement with regulators in Mexico had been reached.

Fox declined to make any official comment on the status of the review. A Disney rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The main sticking point, as in other regions, was Disney’s putative ownership of Fox Sports given the importance of soccer rights. The combination of Fox and Disney’s ESPN was viewed warily by regulators in the U.S. and Europe, with major agencies there requiring divestitures.

Fox’s regional sports networks, with a collective worth of more than $15 billion, are in the process of being shopped to likely a collection of different buyers. As stipulated by a settlement between Disney and the U.S. Department of Justice, those divestitures can continue for a short time beyond the main deal’s projected closing, but are expected to conclude this year.

The holdup in Brazil was an unexpected twist, and given the larger stakes Disney CEO Bob Iger opted to fly down to South America two weeks ago to meet with regulators in person.

Disney stock has essentially moved sideways this year as investors wait on the green light for the deal, which was finalized last summer after Comcast dropped out of the bidding. Fox stock has ticked up 4% in 2019 to date.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/02/disney-fox-deal-nears-finish-line-progress-in-brazil-mexico-1202565767/