Brazil regulators have approved The Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film and related businesses — paving the way for consummation of the Hollywood mega-merger first announced in December 2017.
The slow-moving antitrust hurdle represented one of the last challenges to Disney’s merger with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment division.
Brazilian authorities sought and achieved Disney’s divesture of Fox Sports channel in the South American country. Disney also owns ESPN Brazil channel. Fox Sports owns rights to key soccer competitions in the region.
A similar situation exists in the U.S. where the Justice Department ruled Disney has to sell off its stake in 22 regional Fox Sports channels since it owns ESPN.
European Union officials ordered Disney sell its European — not U.S. — stake in A&E Networks.
“Currently, there is only one big-screen rival capable of competing with these channels,” Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense said in a statement as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The agency said separating Fox Sports from Disney “aims to eliminate competitive concerns in the pay-TV sports channel market.”