21st Century Fox

Fox sets date for vote on Disney’s US$52 billion asset purchase, putting pressure on rival suitor Comcast

Fox has scheduled the special shareholder meeting for July 10, but said it may postpone the gathering should another ‘event’ require additional time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 1:16am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 3:18am

Twenty-First Century Fox has set a date for shareholders to vote on its US$52 billion plan to sell assets to Walt Disney, essentially creating a deadline for rival suitor Comcast to make a formal offer.

Fox scheduled the special shareholder meeting for July 10, but said it may postpone the gathering should another “event” require additional time, according to a statement Wednesday. Fox is recommending that investors vote in favour of the Disney merger.

What Fox talking to Disney says about them and global media

The scheduled meeting adds to pressure on Comcast executives who are already laying the groundwork for a bid to snatch away Fox’s trove of entertainment assets.

Last week, Comcast confirmed its desire to outbid Disney for the Fox operations, sending a signal to Fox investors that they may not want to rush to accept a deal.

Executives at Comcast, which said its potential all-cash offer would top the value of Disney’s current all-stock bid, planned to begin approaching Fox shareholders to discuss their intentions soon, a person briefed on the matter said last week.

Fox Chief Executive Officer James Murdoch has not been shy about expressing his support for Disney over Comcast. He said Tuesday that the deal has a higher certainty of closing and that he is focused on getting it done.

Last week, Comcast said it was in the “advanced stages” of preparing an offer for Fox, which would roil a plan by Disney CEO Bob Iger to bolster the company’s dominance in entertainment.

Fox agreed in December to sell its film and TV studios, cable channels including FX and National Geographic and other assets to Burbank, California-based Disney, which plans to use the entertainment properties in part to stream more content directly to consumers.

The offer has been of particular note to superhero movie fans, who see it as an opportunity to merge Marvel’s film properties, some of which – such as Iron Man and Avengers – are owned by Disney, while others – the X-Men movies, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four films - are owned by Fox.

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