Disney to buy Fox film, some TV businesses for $52 billion

Collage of Disney store in Times Square and Fox Studios

Walt Disney Company has announced the acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock, while carving out some assets to be retained by Fox's stockholders.

As part of that, Disney seems to have big plans in place for developing Hulu out as a direct-to-consumer service, according to Iger, who noted that Hulu is "obviously a great opportunity to expand" its direct consumer offerings, and relished the additional ownership stake that Disney will gain as a result of the deal in terms of what it means for the company's ability to influence Hulu's development direction.

The sports networks include the YES Network in New York, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West in Los Angeles, and networks that carry 44 professional teams in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the NHL.

Disney's deal to acquire Fox's assets means that the company will not have to license these characters from Fox, opening up the potential to readily include them in Disney's Marvel films. Star India CEO Uday Shankar, while continuing with his existing portfolio, was recently elevated and given an additional charge as the Asia president of 21st Century Fox's video business, which also includes Fox Network group.

The acquisition will give Disney a new pipeline of shows and movies as it battles technology companies spending billions of dollars on programming shown online to siphon audiences away from traditional TV networks.

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As the news of Disney negotiating to buy a large portion of 21 Century Fox came to light, many in the industry had questions.

In a statement, Murdoch said: "We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox". Just as well, the deal needs to be approved by regulators in the U.S. and overseas, given the global reach this buy out will give Disney. It would also put Fox's regional sports networks under the same roof as Disney's ESPN. A purchase of Fox assets would increase Disney's stake in the popular Hulu streaming platform to 60%.

Disney boss Bob Iger said: "We're honoured and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building".

"And during that period of time, he and I will continue to discuss whether there is a role for him here or not".

There had been some reporting that Murdoch's son James, now CEO of 21st Century Fox, would move over to Disney in a high level role and as a possible successor to Iger. "But I look forward to talking to him about it", Iger said.

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