The Disney purchase of Fox is very close to being a done deal. There are many moving parts with a merger of this size and lots of wrinkles that still need to be ironed out, but Fox will be logistically ready for the change come January 1. This news comes directly from 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice, who announced this to his employees at a recent town hall meeting held by the company.
During the meeting, Peter Rice stated that the Disney / Fox deal itself is expected to close in the first half of 2019, likely in the first quarter. But Fox will be at the ready at the turn of the new year and will not hold up the process once Disney absorbs the majority of the media company's assets. Disney purchased all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, several cable networks, Fox's stake in Hulu and more for $71.3 billion. What's left of Fox, which will consist of Fox Sports, Fox News and Fox Broadcasting, will be formed into a new company, currently dubbed New Fox once the deal is complete.
So from their end, Fox will be ready with New Fox come January 1 and once Disney takes over, their operation will already be up and running. Peter Rice, who will be joining Disney as their top TV executive once the merger is finalized, fielded questions from employees at the meeting, who face a great deal of uncertainty. The merger will result in many layoffs, as there will be redundant positions between both companies. Those layoffs are expected to number into the hundreds, if not thousands. Most of the layoffs will be on the Disney side, as New Fox will mostly be maintaining their operations as they are.
The purchase was first announced last December, but Comcast later attempted to outbid Disney, forcing them to up their original $52 billion offer. A deal of this size faces many challenges, including various regulatory approvals and just the pure logistical nightmare of merging these two huge media titans. But once the deal is done, which seems to be progressing a bit more quickly than was previously expected, Disney will be far and away the most powerful studio in Hollywood.
Much of this has to do with the future, which will be centered on streaming services. Disney is set to launch their own streaming service next year and, in order to compete with Netflix, they needed resources. Purchasing Fox was their way to get those resources. Not only that, but Disney will also have a controlling stake in Hulu once the deal is done. For comic book movie fans, this also means that Marvel, which is owned by Disney, will be back in control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four character rights. So we will eventually see those characters absorbed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside the rest of The Avengers. The media landscape is in for one of its biggest shake-ups in history in just a matter of months. This news was previously reported by Variety.