Walt Disney Co. may announce a deal as soon as this week to acquire a large piece of 21st Century Fox Inc., transferring legendary Hollywood properties to new owners, according to Bloomberg sources.
The $50 billion deal would mark a significant turning point in the empire-building career of Fox’s founder and executive chairman, 86-year-old Rupert Murdoch. It would also be a defining moment for Disney and its Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger.
A trust belonging to Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his family would end up with a small stake in Disney in the transaction, said Bloomberg’s source, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Disney would acquire Fox’s movie and TV studio, networks including FX and National Geographic, and international assets including Star India’s TV channels and a 39 percent stake in European satellite provider Sky Plc. Disney would also get Fox’s stake in U.S. streaming-video provider Hulu, doubling its ownership to 60 percent.
21st Century Fox would keep Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports 1. The company would remain independent at least initially, though it could consider a merger later with the Murdochs’ publishing company, News Corp., the person said. Fox Chief Executive Officer James Murdoch is likely to be offered a senior position at Disney after the transaction closes, the person said. That would put him in the running as a candidate to eventually succeed Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The talks between Disney and Fox, which began more than two months ago, will unite two giants of the entertainment industry and mark a significant turning point for Rupert Murdoch, the mogul who has spent the past seven decades assembling a media empire. A deal will still face regulatory scrutiny in Washington, where the U.S. Justice Department has sued to block another proposed media megamerger between AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc.
A deal still hasn’t been finalized, and the talks could fall apart. Fox shares rose 1.1 percent to $33.66 at the close in New York. Burbank, California-based Disney climbed 2.5 percent to $106.83. Philadephia-based Comcast added 1.5 percent in late trading after announcing it’s no longer pursuing the assets, and Sky was little changed at 1,000 pence at 9:38 a.m. in London.
“When a set of assets like 21st Century Fox’s becomes available, it’s our responsibility to evaluate if there’s a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our…