June 27, 2018
The Walt Disney Co. has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s assets for $71.3 billion on the condition it divest 22 Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), the Justice Department announced June 27.
Disney’s deal to buy Fox, agreed on in December but now hotly contested by cable operator Comcast, still needs numerous other regulatory approvals from other countries.
Disney initially offered $52.4 billion to buy the Fox movie and TV assets, but after Comcast earlier this month countered with a $65 billion all-cash deal, Disney upped its cash-and-stock offer to $71.3 billion.
Last week, Disney said last week in a regulatory filing that it was willing to divest Fox assets that generated up to $1 billion in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in order to obtain regulatory approval for its purchase bid.
Previously, Disney had planned to divest Fox assets that generated $500 million in EBITDA.
“American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox’s cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “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.”