21st Century Fox has called an investor meeting on July 10. This will allow shareholders to vote on whether the company sells the bulk of its movie assets to Disney, or instead considers the rival offer from Comcast.
In December last year, Disney made an unprecedented offer to purchase the bulk of 21st Century Fox's film empire. With the future shape of Hollywood at stake, Comcast has made an unsolicited cash bid to compete for the purchase. Although Fox's leadership were said to be in favor of the Disney deal, Comcast's approach was essentially a bid direct to the shareholders.
According to Variety, the next twist in this big business tale will take place on July 10. Fox has called an investor meeting, and part of that will involve a shareholder vote to decide whether to go with Disney, or "consider" Comcast's bid. It's important to note that, should shareholders vote in favor of Comcast, this won't seal the deal; Disney is reportedly lining up financing in order to make further offers, should Fox demand it.
Whoever ultimately acquires 21st Century Fox's film and TV empire, this will be the most dramatic shake-up in Hollywood in a generation. Senior management at Fox reportedly believe that scale is important in the modern media landscape, and that they lack the necessary scale to capitalize on the film and broadcast divisions. Disney, for their part, is keen to acquire Fox's portfolio for the streaming site they intend to launch in 2019. Major franchises such as Avatar and the X-Men would be a huge boost to Disney, who have plans to synergize film releases of Avatar sequels with further theme park developments. There are legitimate monopoly concerns involving the Disney bid, not least because of an anti-press mentality demonstrated by the House of Mouse last November; Disney banned the Los Angeles Times from attending press screenings due to coverage of the company's political influence in Anaheim.
For Comcast, the Fox purchase would position the world's largest broadcasting and cable TV company for further growth. There's particular interest in gaining more shares in Sky, an internet provider in the UK. Comcast's bid would give the company a majority share in Hulu, and massively boost their own film empire, which includes NBCUniversal. Again, though, there are strong monopoly concerns against the bid. Whoever wins, the market will change shape dramatically, and not necessarily in favor of the consumer.
No doubt the final deal will face serious regulatory scrutiny. The Department of Justice shocked the industry with its intervention in the AT&T / Warner deal, and it's unclear whether or not they'd sit back and approve either proposed purchase.