After breaking off talks about a month ago, The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox are reportedly close to a deal that would bring Fox’s movie studio and select cable channels to the Magic Kingdom in a deal valued at about $60 billion.
Fox shares were up as much as 3% ($1.09) to $34.18 each on news of the possible deal. Disney shares were down about 1% (95 cents) to $109.27 each in early trading Tuesday.
According to CNBC, Disney and Fox are hammering out the details of a deal that would send the 20th Century Fox movie and television production studio and cable channels FX and National Geographic to Disney for more than $60 billion. Disney would also get Fox’s regional sports channels and its interest in over-the-top service Hulu (it already has about 30%) and its 39% interest in U.K. satellite TV giant Sky.
Disney and Fox were reportedly in talks about a month ago for the same assets but broke off talks after the two couldn’t agree on a price. Those talks were started up again earlier this week, and according to the network, the two are closer on pricing. According to CNBC, current Fox shareholders would receive one share of the new Fox for every share they own, as well as shares of Disney in a fixed exchange ratio.
21st Century Fox would keep its FS1 sport channels, its Fox broadcast network and Fox News and Fox Business. Other suitors like Verizon and Comcast were reportedly interested in the assets as well, but may have backed out as the price got too high.
Disney has been under pressure as its flagship ESPN sports network has lost subscribers over the years. Last week it announced that it would lay off about 150 workers at the sports network, the second round of employee reductions this year. The addition of the Fox assets could also help Disney in its plans to launch a direct-to-consumer entertainment offering in 2019. An ESPN-branded direct-to-consumer sports offering – ESPN Plus – is slated for a spring launch.