Disney seals takeover of Murdoch's 21st Century Fox's film and TV assets

Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Disney has sealed a $52.4bn (£39bn) takeover of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, it has been announced.

The deal includes the group's 39% stake in the broadcaster Sky.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is executive chairman of Fox, said Sky is the asset he is parting with most reluctantly but said the deal will "unlock even more value" for shareholders.

Sky News asked Mr Murdoch if selling Sky was a "really emotional moment" for him.

He replied: "Yeah. We are very proud of Sky. I just thought we needed a real alternative, give people lots of choice, we thought you know, four or five channels - now what is it, 150 or something?

"And it's a great company, employing a lot of people in this country."

When asked which asset he was parting with most reluctantly, the businessman replied: "I think Sky."

He said the move would see Fox "returning to our roots" of news and sports.

Walt Disney boss Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch celebrate the deal. Credit: Walt Disney Company

If backed by regulators and shareholders, the deal would reinforce Disney's position as one of the world's biggest media companies against the backdrop of the rise of video-streaming services.

In a call with investors, Mr Murdoch defended the deal, saying: "We know a lot of you are wondering 'why did they come to such a momentous decision? Are we retreating?' Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment."

In an earlier statement, Murdoch said: “We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox.

"I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry."

What are the main terms of the deal?

  • Disney will take on 13.7 billion (£10.2 billion) of debt

  • Fox shareholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each share

  • A host of brands, TV stations and shows will fall into Disney's hands from X-Men and the Simpsons to FX Networks and National Geographic.

  • The entertainment giant will gain control of Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox2000, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, StarIndia and Fox's interests in Hulu, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

Disney boss Bob Iger said: "We're honoured and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building."

"We're excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings."

Mr lger continue as chairman and chief executive of Disney until the end of 2021.

Fox said its existing bid to take full control of Sky will press ahead. Credit: PA

Murdoch's long-standing £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky will not be affected by the takeover.

Fox said that it will press ahead with attempts to buy the 61% of the broadcaster it does not already own before the Disney deal closes.

The company has been struggling to finalise the takeover after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley referred the acquisition to Britain's competition watchdog for an in-depth investigation.

The proposed takeover was passed to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full inquiry after a three-month probe by Ofcom.

"We remain confident that the CMA and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will approve the transaction on its merits, according to the statutory timeline and we continue to expect the transaction will close by June 30, 2018," a Fox statement said.