Bloomberg is reporting that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who control 21st Century Fox Inc., are favoring Disney as buyer of most of Fox’s assets, because it’s thought to be a better strategic fit and presents fewer regulatory hurdles. News first broke in early November about the potential asset sale. Talks apparently broke down, but then ramped up again this past week.
Although Fox is also in talks with Comcast, insiders are saying the Murdochs are favoring Disney as the buyer of the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio and Fox’s stake in the U.K. pay-TV provider Sky Plc. Fox will retain ownership of Fox News, the Fox broadcast network or the Fox Sports 1 channel.
Fox’s current CEO, James Murdoch, could potentially join Disney in a C-suite role, which would make the issue of Iger’s successor take a new twist. Iger is set to retire in 19 months. Chatter within the company is currently that Bob Chapek, Chairman of Parks and Resorts, is being groomed for the CEO role.
Sky Plc adds an interesting twist to Disney’s plans to launch new streaming services. If Disney buys Fox’s 39 percent stake in Sky, it would trigger a mandatory offer for the rest under U.K. Takeover Panel rules.
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