21st Century Fox Has Held Merger Talks With Disney

  • 21st Century Fox Has Held Merger Talks With Disney

21st Century Fox Has Held Merger Talks With Disney

Disney is in talks to purchase 21st Century Fox, acquiring its slate of original titles and rights to various franchises, according to a CNBC report. The talks have been described as "on again, off again", and are now at a halt, but sources tell CNBC that discussions have indeed taken place between the two massive companies in recent weeks, although "there is no certainty they will lead to a deal".

According to CNBC, the buzz around the talks is that a deal will come to fruition due to Fox being rather bullish about its desire to let go of its purely entertainment branch. While Fox would end up with a more tightly focused news and sports business, Walt Disney would gain an additional movie studio and some massive TV production assets.

The buyout mainly concerns 20th Century Fox film properties, and would also remove the company as a Disney film competitor.

Fox's shares were briefly suspended and then rose more than 7% in afternoon trading in response to the news, which would combine some of the most famous media brands in the world. Disney already owns ABC and ESPN, and believes incorporating Fox's sports coverage would encompass a monopoly and make them a target of an anti-trust case.

This also comes as Rupert Murdoch, 86, looks to hand the company over to his sons Lachlan and James after a tumultuous year that saw Fox News part ways with its creator Roger Ailes and biggest star Bill O'Reilly following multiple reports of sexual harassment or assault from staffers. In addition worldwide assets, such as Star and BSkyB, he reported that Disney is seeking to add entertainment networks such as FX and Nat Geo.

Currently, 21st Century Fox has X-Force and New Mutants films in the works based on the Marvel Comics properties of the same name, as well as an "R"-rated Deadpool sequel".

At this point, nothing is official regarding the potential deal between Disney and Fox, but now that word is getting around, there's a good chance we'll hear more about it in the near future. That £11.7bn ($15.41bn) deal has run afoul of regulators' concerns about media plurality in the United Kingdom and the Murdochs' commitment to broadcasting standards.

Fox's stock is up more than 7% on the reports from CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, which cite unidentified insiders and describe negotiations not now being held. Disney climbed 1.9% to 100.55. But 21st Century Fox wouldn't sell all of its company.

Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox jumped by about 10% to as high as $27.49 after CNBC's report, while Walt Disney shares surged by almost 3% to as high as $101.12.