Fri, Jun 29, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Disney gains approval for Fox deal

PRECEDENT:Comcast, which has also made a bid, has said that the approval of AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner sets a benchmark that would allow more media tie-ups

AP, NEW YORK CITY

The Walt Disney Co on Wednesday won US antitrust approval for its US$71.3 billion bid for Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s entertainment assets.

Disney must first sell its 22 regional sports networks, the US Department of Justice said.

The company has 90 days to sell the networks, with an option to extend for another 90 days.

Fox’s assets have been the target of bidding war between Comcast Corp and Disney. Comcast offered nearly US$66 billion for Fox’s assets, which include the FX network and the studio that houses the X-Men franchise.

Fox has the option to consider other offers and Comcast could raise its bid.

Comcast has said that a judge’s approval on June 13 of a massive US$85 billion takeover by telecom and broadband giant AT&T Inc of media and entertainment conglomerate Time Warner Inc effectively sets a benchmark that would allow a Comcast-Fox deal.

Comcast has been reaching out to other companies, such as a private equity firms and technology or media company, on a joint bid, reports in the Wall Street Journal and by Bloomberg said on Wednesday, suggesting that the bidding could go as high as US$90 billion.

Disney said the decision allows the company “to resolve the limited potential concerns to position us to move forward with this exciting opportunity that will enable us to create even more compelling consumer experiences.”

The battle for Twenty-First Century Fox reflects a new imperative among entertainment and telecommunications firms.

They are amassing ever more programming to better compete with online streaming companies such as Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc for viewers’ attention — and dollars.

“Today’s settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution,” US Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, of the department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

Fox declined to comment.

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