Disney and Fox shareholders have voted in favor of the proposed merger. This all but seals the deal on Disney's proposed purchase of the bulk of Fox's film and TV assets, given the Department of Justice has already granted approval.
In November last year, rumors began to swirl that Disney was in talks to conduct a merger with Fox. Although most attention has focused on the possibility of bringing the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU, Disney's focus was as much on the importance of increasing its catalog in order to make their upcoming streaming service a true competitor for Netflix. The Avatar franchise, too, was a high priority; Disney execs believe there are real opportunities to synergize film releases with a growing range of theme parks.
Regulators have already approved the merger, and The Wrap has confirmed that shareholders have agreed to the deal, too. Disney will take over ownership of Fox’s Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studios, as well as certain cable and international television businesses. Their goal is to marry up content with a strong global distribution network. Fox, on the other hand, will be able to tighten its focus in on news and sports.
The merger will still take time to happen, of course, with industry analysts telling CNBC that they expect it to be completed by early next year. In June, a letter to shareholders confirmed the next steps for the two companies.
- 21st Century Fox will form a new subsidiary, referred to as "New Fox," who will be responsible for "a portfolio of 21CF's news, sports, and broadcast businesses."
- 21st Century Fox and New Fox will then enter into a "separation agreement," with an organizational restructure to ensure this is handled effectively.
- Shares and dividends will be distributed appropriately.
- The remainder of 21st Century Fox, which would retain "all assets and liabilities not transferred to New Fox," would then merge with Disney. Shareholders would exchange their shares in Fox for shares in Disney.
The necessary corporate restructures are almost certain to result in a significant number of job losses. According to industry analyst Rich Greenfield, who's historically been fairly critical of Disney, there could be between 5,000 and 10,000 redundancies "given the high degree of overlap between the two companies around the world." President Donald Trump has claimed that this deal "could be a great thing for jobs," but Greenfield's response was simple and cutting: "Fake news."
Once the merger is complete, Disney will be looking to make the most of their new purchase. It's as yet uncertain how this will affect Fox's current film slate, which notably includes a number of X-Men tentpole movies and spinoffs. There have been recent rumors that Disney plan to cancel X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, but those are as yet unsubstantiated and so shouldn't really be believed at this stage. Meanwhile, a priority for Disney will be the Avatar franchise. Disney believe the "World of Pandora" theme parks could be a potential rival for the Warner Bros. "Wizarding World" range, and will be keen to push the next installments in James Cameron's blockbuster franchise. It remains to be seen how the studio will handle the dramatic influx of R-rated and horror content. Presumably those licenses will be carefully distributed to Disney subsidiaries like Touchstone, who have traditionally produced that kind of film.
Source: The Wrap