Fox Accepts Disney's $71 Billion Bid
Disney and Fox's shareholders officially voted to approve the $71.3 billion deal on July 27, 2018. The details of the merger had been laid out in a letter to shareholders the previous month, detailing exactly how 21st Century Fox's assets would be split, and what Disney would be acquiring.
The Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, the Big Ten Network, FS1, FS2 and Spanish-language sports channel Fox Deportes were not included in the acquisition. Instead, it was agreed that a new subsidiary called New Fox (later renamed Fox Corporation) would be formed and enter into a separation agreement with 21st Century Fox, creating two distinct companies - one of which would remain independent, while the other became a Disney subsidiary. That will leave Disney with the entirety of the 20th Century Fox film division, including major franchises like X-Men, Deadpool, Avatar, Die Hard, and Kingsman, as well as 20th Century Fox Television shows like The Simpsons, This Is Us, The X-Files and The Gifted.
While Disney isn't getting Fox's news networks in the merger, the company will nonetheless acquire FX Productions and the FX Networks, including FX, FXX and FXM, and with them shows like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Legion. The deal will also give Disney a 60% share of streaming platform Hulu.
However, as one of the conditions given by the Department of Justice in its approval of the deal, Disney must sell off Fox's regional sports networks to third parties, and in November 2018 the European Commission ruled that Disney must also sell off A&E Networks Europe, including channels like Blaze and Lifetime. Disney owns a 50% stake in those networks, and is expected to sell its shares to Hearst Communications, which owns the other 50%.
Disney Is Undergoing Regulatory Approval
The Department of Justice approved the Disney-Fox merger on June 27, 2018 - but that was merely the first step in seeking the necessary regulatory approval. Since a merger of this size raises potential antitrust concerns, and Disney obviously has business all over the world, the company needs to gain approval from each country's regulatory body before the deal can be finalized. One of the biggest challenges was gaining the approval of the European Commission, which oversees regulation for all countries in the European Union. On October 15, 2018, Disney submitted a list of antitrust concessions to the European Commission, which finally granted its approval on November 6, 2018 - one of the major conditions being the aforementioned sale of Disney's A&E Networks Europe shares.
On November 19, 2018, China - the final major regulatory hurdle - granted its approval for the merger with no conditions. In a Q1 earnings conference call on February 5, 2019, Disney Chairman CEO Bob Iger said that Disney and Fox would begin the process of "effectively combining our businesses" as soon as approval was granted by the "last few remaining markets." According to Disney's most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the merger is expected to reach completion before June 2019.