Brazilian regulators have approved Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox after Disney agreed to sell off Fox Sports and related sports rights in the territory.
The approval is one of the last steps in the regulatory review of the industry-altering transaction, which is now expected to formally close in the first half of March.
Officials at Brazilian agency CADE (whose translated full name is The Administrative Council for Economic Defense) had spent the last several months reviewing the deal and their reluctance came as an unexpected late-stage twist. Given the larger stakes, Disney CEO Bob Iger flew to South America two weeks ago to meet with regulators in person, but he left without an agreement.
Sources have indicated to Deadline that the Brazil approval — and a similar arrangement in Mexico — will usher in a final period of review expected to last about 10 days.
The main sticking point in Brazil, as in other regions, was Disney’s potential 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 in both key zones 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.