21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch got a little sentimental in his announcement to shareholders of the deal to sell most of the assets he built to Walt Disney Co., but at the same time he reminded shareholders that transformation is nothing new for the now smaller media icon.
On a conference call with analysts to discuss the deal – Disney held its an hour earlier -- Murdoch regaled investors of Fox’s ability to read the media tea leaves – launching a fourth broadcast network when no on thought it was viable, launching a conservative-leaning all-news channel despite countless naysayers.
This time is nothing different. On the call Murdoch called the deal “a momentous occasion,” harking back to the company’s formation decades ago with a small newspaper in Adelaide, Australia and with the help and energy of thousands of colleagues built Fox into one of the most dynamic media properties in the world.
While some pundits have said for months that Murdoch’s willingness to sell was more of a desire to throw in the towel in light of the ongoing decline of the traditional media model, Murdoch said that was not the case.
“With today’s announcement, we launch the next great leg of our journey,” Murdoch said.
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“Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment,” Murdoch said, adding that the transaction is just the next step in Fox’s ongoing commitment to deliver more choices for consumers. And Fox shareholders benefit not only through the new Fox business – focusing on live sports and news – but in also getting a big chunk – 25% -- of the now even larger Disney.
He pointed to four years ago, when News Corp. split itself into two separate companies – 21st Century Fox for its content assets and News Corp. for its newspaper properties – as a signal that the company could see dramatic change coming. He added that there are no current plans to combine new Fox with News Corp., adding if that were to every happen it would be years and years down the road.
21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, who has been touted as a possible replacement for Disney chief Bob Iger, got into the act as well, telling analysts on the call that Fox has always been interested in game changers and that this deal is “a game changer like no other.”