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Disney, Fox merger set to close March 20

The Walt Disney Company has set a March 20 date to finalise its $71.3bn acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

The company announced the news after receiving the final sign-off from Mexican regulators on Tuesday (12 March).

Mexico wanted reassurance that Disney would sell off Fox’s regional sports networks (RSN’s) to approve the merger. The RSNs are currently in the process of being shopped, and bidders have included Amazon, Apollo Global Management, KKR&Co, The Blackstone Group and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Disney’s announcement highlighted that 21st Century Fox shareholders will have until Thursday to choose the amount of cash and Disney stock to receive from the transaction. They will receive a mix of cash and stock valued at $38 a share in the deal.

Twenty-First Century Fox will distribute all issued and outstanding shares of Fox Corporation common stock to shareholders on a pro rata basis at approximately 8am ET/PT on 19 March.

The house of mouse has said the acquisition is expected to become effective at 12:02am ET on 20 March, 2019.

Disney is picking up the studio, a controlling stake in Hulu, a suite of entertainment channels like FX and Nat Geo, and other assets. The remaining parts of 21st Century Fox will be spun-off into the newly formed ‘Fox’ – led by Lachlan Murdoch.

Last week Disney Television Studios hired former Warner Bros. exec Craig Hunegs to lead the business in a companywide restructure which incorporates Fox execs. 

The process has taken nearly two years to close. Disney initiated the deal in December 2017, but received a series of counteroffers from Comcast, significantly raising the price of the deal. The mouse house outbid Comcast in July 2018.