U.S. Approves Disney’s Buyout of Fox

Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) has received approval from U.S. regulators to buyout Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA) for USD 71.3 Billion, on terms that Disney will divest Fox’s 22 Regional Sports Networks, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

“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.”

Fox’s assets have caught the attention of both Disney and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA), which began a bidding war between the two. Disney announced last week that it has revised its offer to USD 71.3 Billion, topping Comcast’s bid of USD 65 Billion.

The two Companies are fighting for the rights to acquire Fox to compete with competitors within the rapidly growing media industry, like Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and the recent merger between AT&T (NYSE: T) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX).

Acquiring Fox would allow Disney, or Comcast, to own a variety of media related assets such as Fox’s movie production studio, FX Networks, National Geographic, U.K. news station Sky plc and even Fox’s stake in online media streaming service Hulu. Disney already owns multiple media studios such as ABC, Pixar and Marvel Studios.

The Justice Department Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the acquisition, but at the same time, it filed a settlement, that if approved, would resolve the competitive harm the acquisition could cause.

Sources familiar with the matter previously said that Comcast would bid up to USD 100 Billion for the rights to acquire Fox’s assets.

Comcast has yet to offer a counter bid to Disney’s recently raised bid.

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