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By Erich Schwartzel
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (March 13, 2019).
LOS ANGELES -- Walt Disney Co. expects to close its $71.3 billion acquisition of major assets of 21st Century Fox on March 20, the company said.
In a letter to investors Tuesday, Disney said the acquisition should "become effective at 12:20 a.m. Eastern Time" next Wednesday. At the company's annual shareholder meeting last week, Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger indicated the deal would close imminently.
The guidance on Tuesday offers some clarity for employees on the Fox studio lot, where workers are bracing for layoffs following the acquisition -- and for Hollywood overall, which is adapting to a coming reality in which a powerful Disney becomes even bigger.
Already a dominant force at the box office and in theme parks, Disney is inheriting Fox's movie studio, including its Fox Searchlight specialty distribution label, as well as the FX cable network and a stake in Hulu that will make it a majority owner of the streaming service.
Since it was announced in late 2017, the Disney-Fox tie-up was quickly approved by regulators in Washington and largely supported by shareholders of both companies. The acquisition didn't go entirely smoothly, though. A competing offer for the Fox assets from Comcast Corp. last year forced Disney to boost its offer from $52.4 billion to the current $71.3 billion.
The acquisition will put Fox brands like James Cameron's "Avatar" under the same roof as Disney's stable of franchises from Marvel Studios, Pixar Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd.
Disney plans to use that Fox programming to help boost its own foray into direct-to-consumer offerings. The company is aiming to launch its own streaming service late this year, and already operates an ESPN-branded streaming service.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 13, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)
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