Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has been in talks to sell most of itself to Disney

  • Disney was recently in talks with 21st Century Fox to buy most of the company, according to CNBC’s David Faber.
  • The deal would trim 21st Century Fox’s assets into a more focused slate of news and sports networks that can better compete in a changing media landscape, the report said.
  • An acquisition would exclude Fox News because Disney cannot own two broadcast networks, the report said. Fox’s sports channels would also not be combined with ESPN to avoid anti-trust scrutiny.
  • Disney was reportedly interested in buying National Geographic and FX Networks, among others.

21st Century Fox has been in talks to sell most of itself to Disney, CNBC’s David Faber reported on Monday.

An acquisition would leave 21st Century Fox a smaller, more focused portfolio of news and sports networks to better compete in a changing media space, the report said.

A deal would exclude the Fox broadcast network because Disney could not own two broadcast networks, the report said. It would also exclude Fox’s sports channels to avoid regulatory scrutiny that would come on concerns that combining with ESPN is anti-competitive.

21st Century Fox was split out from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2013. Murdoch remains executive chairman of the company, and his sons are in key management positions, with Lachlan Murdoch serving as co-executive chairman and James Murdoch the CEO.

Disney was reportedly interested in buying Fox assets including the studio division, the UK telecoms company BSkyB, National Geographic, and FX Networks.

Disney could benefit from 21st Century Fox’s television properties as it gets ready to launch a streaming service. The company announced in August that it was ending its exclusive movie deal with Netflix in 2019 and launching an ad-free, Disney-branded streaming service.

Fox was willing to discuss an acquisition with Disney because its senior management believed the way to scale its media properties was not by buying others, the report said. Both companies aren’t in talks but could resume them, according to the report.

The price that Disney may have offered 21st Century Fox was not reported.

21st Century Fox shares spiked 6%, while Disney gained 1% on the news. Other cable networks including Viacom and Discovery Communications rallied. Netflix fell.

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