Mickey Mouse, meet Bart Simpson.
That’s one example of the character match-ups that Walt Disney Co. is getting in a deal with 21st Century Fox to buy the company’s entertainment assets.
Industry observers and analysts who follow Disney said that it is the content – feature films and television shows – that the Burbank entertainment and media giant was after in the $66 billion transaction that includes taking on $13.7 billion in Fox debt.
Disney is paying for the film and television studios, the regional sports networks, cable entertainment networks including FX, its 30 percent stake in streaming service Hulu, and the international assets in the United Kingdom, India and Europe.
A leaner Fox keeps its news and national sports holdings, in addition to the broadcast network and its owned and operated affiliate stations.
With all the content from Fox, Disney becomes that much more of a challenger to streaming service Netflix Inc., in Los Gatos.
“Competition for Netflix got much, much more serious with the announcement of this deal,” said Michael Pachter, a managing director in equity research with Wedbush Securities Inc., in Los Angeles.
David Bonrouhi, managing director of Calabasas Capital, an merger and acquisition advisory firm in Calabasas, said it was unknown at this point who among the Fox senior-level management in charge of television and film production will stay once the deal is finalized.
“Disney is the acquirer here, so if there is senior management leaving it will probably come from the Fox side,” Bonrouhi added.
The acquisition is expected to yield at least $2 billion in cost savings from efficiencies realized through the combination of businesses, Disney said.
Bonrouhi said that to him that means there are back office layoffs coming.
“In certain divisions you may have some people that are highly specialized in their specific area,” he explained. “Certain groups within Fox may be stronger than a certain operational group within Disney. Generally speaking, it is the buyer’s operations that prevail.”
Word began to spread in early November that Disney had been in talks with 21st Century Fox to buy its entertainment assets although at that time negotiations were not ongoing. Media reports also named Comcast Corp., which owns NBCUniversal in Universal City, as a potential buyer for Fox’s media assets.
21st Century Fox was created in 2013 after being spun off from News Corp., the company controlled by billionaire Rupert Murdoch.
On Dec. 14, the deal was announced and set off a flurry of speculation of what it meant for the two companies and the entertainment industry.
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