A very big day is coming up for the future of the media industry. Fox has called a shareholder meeting to be held on July 10. The primary reason for holding this meeting will be for shareholders to vote on whether to proceed with the Disney deal, or to possibly consider the much richer, cash offer that Comcast hasn't yet officially made, but is preparing to make. There are still a lot of steps along the way, but this meeting could determine who controls the majority of Fox's assets in the future.
In December, Fox agreed to sell the majority of their media assets to Disney in a $52.4 billion offer. This includes all of the 20th Century Fox movie studio, which brings along with it the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises, meaning that Marvel Studios would effectively have the vast majority of their character rights under the same roof. Fans have hoped to see characters from the X-Men universe crossover with the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some time and this deal was set to make that possible. But Comcast is trying to get in the way of that.
Comcast was bidding on Fox's assets before the Disney sale was announced, but those at Fox felt that Disney had a better chance of getting approval to purchase the assets from federal regulators. Despite that, Comcast recently made clear their intentions to make an offer to 21st Century Fox for a reported $60 billion. Not only is this offer at a much higher dollar amount, but they have been putting together financing to make an all-cash offer, as opposed to a stock offer like Disney. That's something that shareholders will have to consider on July 10.
Other assets that Disney has agreed to buy include FX and National Geographic, several TV and movie production studios, such as 20th Century Fox, Fox's stake in U.K.'s broadcaster Sky and a bunch of regional sports cable networks. This is of particular interest to Disney since they already own ESPN. There is also the matter of Fox's stake in Hulu. Whoever ultimately wins this bid, be it the Mouse House or Comcast, they will have a majority stake in the streaming service. Since there is increasing pressure to compete in the streaming landscape with companies like Amazon and, most importantly, Netflix, owning a controlling stake in Hulu is a big factor.
According to this new report, Fox's board of directors has recommended to their shareholders that they vote in favor of the Disney deal. So even though Comcast is offering more money, they clearly don't want to derail six months of work and a very appealing deal. Plus, Fox will have to pay a penalty of $1.52 billion to Disney if they pull out of the deal for any reason that doesn't involve a block from regulators. It sounds like things are still in Disney's favor, but that extra money may be too much for shareholders to pass up. This could start a bit of a bidding war between the companies, depending on the outcome of the vote, which will only make it all the more interesting. This news comes to us courtesy of Variety.