Global media has been shaken up by the news that Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sell 21st Century Fox and Fox Entertainment’s 39% stake in Sky UK to rival Walt Disney Co for a reported $60 billion deal (£45 billion).
All eyes will be placed on today’s New York Stock Exchange opening, when Disney leaders are expected to present the transaction, which will shift media powers throughout all continents.
The deal aims to create the world largest movie studio combining Walt Disney entertainment properties with 21st Century Fox assets and franchises.
If approved, the transaction will further disrupt global sports media as Disney will acquire a 39% shareholding in Sky UK properties (Sky Sports, News and Entertainment). Furthermore, Murdoch will divest Asian sports broadcaster Star Sports Network and Fox International channels.
UK and US news sources report that the Murdoch Family will be rewarded with a significant stake in an enlarged Walt Disney group. The Murdoch family will drop its pursuit of acquiring Sky UK outright, a transaction which has been mired in a protracted regulatory process with the UK CMA.
For a number of years, Disney the owner of leading US sports broadcaster ESPN has targeted becoming a major player in European sports.
Business commentators have detailed that Murdoch is prepared to join forces with Disney, in order to combat the growing threat of tech powerhouses Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google expanding services in entertainment, sports and media.
Once completed, Murdoch will restructure the Fox business solely focusing on the media owners US news and sports properties (Fox News and Fox Sports channels).
The Murdoch Family Trust will retain its stake in News Corp, international newspaper publisher of The Sun, Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal, with elder son, Lachlan Murdoch in charge of the business.
Sky UK and News Corp governances have chosen not to comment on deal speculations.