The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox deal could have a disastrous impact on the studios' employees, resulting in upwards of 5,000-10,000 job losses. The record-breaking $52.4 billion dollar deal quickly became the talk of Tinsel Town yesterday, when it was finalized. Even now, tongues are waggling over the fate of both studios and what changes this union might bring about in the future.
Most of the speculation so far has involved how those Marvel Comics properties that Fox owned the film rights for (X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool being most prominent) might be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still others have wondered if Disney's acquiring the distribution rights to the original trilogy of Star Wars movies might yield the long-awaited release of the films' original editions in remastered high-definition. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the human cost and what effect this merger might have on the employees of both studios.
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Unfortunately, a report by Deadline paints a grim picture of the situation. Rich Greenfield, an analyst with the global financial services firm BTIG, published a report on Friday which projects that as "few" as 5,000 and as many as 10,000 jobs at Fox could be endangered by the new merger. Greenfield has long been seen as an enemy of The Walt Disney Company, after his reporting on subscriber losses at ESPN triggered a drop in Disney's stock value.
"Disney expects over $2 billion in synergies from the Fox acquisition, with the overwhelming majority of that from cost-savings–meaning job cuts,” Greenfield notes.“In order to reduce costs by upwards of $2 billion, we believe Disney will need to cut well-over 5,000 jobs and the number could easily swell toward 10,000 given the high degree of overlap between the two companies around the world."
Greenfield is far from alone in his criticism of the merger. The WGA (Writers Guild of America) have also decried the deal, both on anti-trust and anti-family grounds. The Justice Department is also expected to file suit, despite President Donald Trump's statement that he believed the deal “could be a great thing for jobs” - an assertion Greenfield dubbed "fake news."
The deal has also drawn criticism from analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. Wieser published a report today reaffirming his sell-rating on Disney stock, stating that regardless of how well Disney streamlines its workforce in the wake of the merger, it is still playing catch-up with more tech-savvy competitors. Weiser predicts “ongoing margin compression for the company’s media networks businesses, both because of rising costs for sports rights and programming more generally.”