Walt Disney buys part of Rupert Murdoch’s business

New York: Walt Disney on Thursday agreed to buy key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion stock deal that could reshape the media-entertainment world and step up a challenge to Netflix and emerging tech platforms.

The deal also vastly reduces the Fox empire built by Rupert Murdoch, leaving the tycoon and his two sons with a more tightly focused group including the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and sports channels.

The deal will see Disney acquire the vaunted Fox Hollywood film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses, bringing popular properties including “X-Men,” “Avatar,” “The Simpsons,” FX Networks and National Geographic into Disney’s portfolio.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Disney’s CEO Robert Iger.

Mr Iger, who was previously expected to step down in 2019, will now stay on through 2021. Disney has been seen as trying to bolster its Hollywood and television positions by acquiring the Fox library of content to strengthen its arsenal against Netflix and other rivals. The rise of streaming services and the so-called cord-cutting movement against cable television, together with declining advertising revenue, have contributed to a rapidly changing landscape for media companies.

Disney, which owns the ABC network, ESPN and has major studios in Hollywood, is set to launch its own streaming services aimed at competing against Netflix and Amazon.

The deal would expand Disney’s global footprint with Fox’s 39 per cent share in the European pay TV service Sky. Fox has been seeking the remainder of Sky but has faced regulatory scrutiny in Britain.