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20th Century Fox is the film production and distribution company that currently owns the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and related characters. 20th Century Fox formerly owned the rights to Iron Man, purchasing them from Universal Pictures in 1996 and selling them to New Line Cinema in 1999.

20th Century Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox after the split of News Corporation.

All live-action films produced by 20th Century Fox based on Marvel Comics have been co-produced by Marvel Studios.

History

The company was founded on May 31, 1935, as the result of the merger of Fox Film Corporation, founded by William Fox in 1915, and Twentieth Century Pictures, founded in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph Schenck, Raymond Griffith and William Goetz.

20th Century Fox is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Potential takeover

Disney-Fox

On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced that it is acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, including the film studio.[1]

On May 7, 2018, shares of Fox rose 5.1% when a report was released that Comcast was in talks with investment banks and firms in order to obtain bridge-financing for an all-cash bid, reportedly worth $60 billion, that threatened the Disney-Fox deal.[2]

On May 29, it was reported that Disney was looking into making its own all-cash counter-offer for Fox assets in the event that Comcast went through with their offer.[3] The next day, Disney and Fox announced that they have set their shareholder vote meetings for July 10, though both companies have stated that Fox's meeting could be postponed if Comcast came through with their offer.[4]

On June 12, AT&T was given approval by District Judge Richard J. Leon to acquire Time Warner, easing concerns Comcast had regarding whether government regulators would block their bid for Fox. Consequently, the next day, Comcast mounted a bid of $65 billion for the 21st Century Fox assets that were set to be acquired by Disney.[5][6]

On June 14, Bloomberg News reported that the New York Yankees were seeking to invoke a clause in Fox's purchase of stakes in YES Network, allowing them to buy back Fox's stake in the event of a change in ownership (and thus prevent it from being included in the sale).[7]

On June 18, it was reported that Disney will add to its already existing $52 billion claim to contest Comcast's proposed counter-offer for the Fox assets.[8]

On June 19, it was reported that Disney has agreed to acquire Sky News from Sky itself.[9]

On June 20, Disney and Fox announced that they had amended their previous merger agreement, upping Disney’s offer to $71.3 billion (a 10% premium over Comcast's $65 billion offer), while also offering shareholders the option of receiving cash instead of stock.[10][11]

On June 21, Murdoch said in response to Disney's higher offer: "We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry." That still does not prevent other companies from making a bid, as the deal was needed to be voted on by shareholders.[12] Iger explained the reasoning behind the bid: "Direct-to-consumer distribution has actually become an even more compelling proposition in the six months since we announced the deal. There has just been not only a tremendous amount of development in that space, but clearly the consumer is voting—loudly."[13]

On June 27, the United States Department of Justice gave antitrust approval to Disney under the condition of selling Fox's 22 regional sports channels, to which the company has agreed to.[14]

On June 28, Disney and Fox boards scheduled July 27, 2018 as the day shareholders vote on Fox's properties being sold to Disney.[15][16]

On July 11, 21st Century Fox raised its bid to purchase Sky's assets to $32.5 billion, and $18.57 a share. In response, Comcast increased its bid to $34 billion, and $19.5 a share. At the same time, Fox was given clearance by the British government to purchase Sky. The bidding war for Sky led to some analysts speculating that Comcast could give up bidding for 21st Century Fox in favor of a smaller battle.[17][18][19]

On July 12, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit to reverse the District Court's approval for AT&T acquisition of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Although analysts say that the chances of the DOJ win are small, they say it is the "final nail in the coffin for Comcast's Fox chase. This is a clear gift to Disney."[20] On the next day, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson gave an interview with CNBC, about Comcast's bid for Fox: "It probably can't help it. You're in a situation where two entities are bidding for an asset, and this kind of action can obviously influence the outcome of those actions."[21]

On July 13, Disney received the support of the Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, the two most prominent proxy adviser firms in the world. Fox shareholders were recommended by the advisers as means to provide for Disney's future.[22] Also on that same day, British regulators have decided that if Disney purchases Fox's assets before Sky's purchase from either Fox or Comcast, it will be forced to launch a bid for the full ownership of Sky, at a minimum of $18.6 a share.[23]

On July 16, CNBC reported that Comcast is unlikely to continue its bidding war to acquire Fox from Disney in favor of Sky.[24]

On July 18, Bloomberg reported that the Sky board also scheduled July 27, 2018 as the day shareholders vote on selling Sky properties.[25]

On July 19, Comcast officially announced that it was dropping its bid on the Fox assets in order to focus on their bid for Sky. The CEO of Comcast, Brian L. Roberts, said "I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company."[26]

On July 25, TCI Fund Management, the second largest shareholder of 21st Century Fox, voted to approve the Fox-Disney deal.[27]

On July 27, Disney and Fox shareholders approved Disney's purchase of Fox's entertainment assets. The acquisition's completions should be in the first half of 2019.[28] On the same day, Bloomberg News reported that out of all 15 nations yet to approve the deal, China could become the biggest threat to the merger since the trade war with USA resulted in the merger between Qualcomm and NXP not being realized.[29]

On August 7, it was reported that 21st Century Fox has until September 22 to come up with a new bid for Sky plc.[30][31] On August 9, it was reported that Viacom CEO Robert Bakish wants to license its TV ad targeting tech to the entire industry, starting with Fox.[32]

On August 12, the Competition Commission of India approved the Disney-Fox deal.[33]

On September 17, the European Commission announced plans of deciding what to do with the Disney-Fox deal by October 19.[34]

On October 5, Disney announced the commencement of exchange offers and consent solicitations for 21st Century Fox.[35]

On October 8, Disney announced that 21st Century Fox's top television executives would join the company, including Peter Rice, Gary Knell, John Landgraf, and Dana Walden. Rice will serve as Chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, succeeding Ben Sherwood while Walden is to be named Chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.[36]

On October 10, it was reported that the new, post-merger organizational structure of "New Fox" would be implemented by January 1, 2019, ahead of the closure of the Disney sale (which is still expected to occur during the first half of 2019).[37]

On October 15, Disney offered a list of concessions to the European Commission, which extended the review deadline to November 6.[38]

On October 18, Disney announced a new organizational structure for The Walt Disney Studios.[39]

On November 6, the sale was cleared by the European Commission, pursuant to the divestment of certain factual television networks in Europe owned by the Disney/Hearst joint venture A&E Networks, including Blaze, Crime & Investigation, History, H2, and Lifetime. Disney will continue to be a 50 percent owner of A&E in areas outside of the European Economic Area.[40]

On November 19, Chinese regulators approved the Disney-Fox deal, without any conditions, with regulatory approval from several countries still remaining.[41]

After obtaining approval from Chinese regulators, Disney reported that it still needed to obtain regulatory approval from several other regulators, though the approvals from the United States, European Union, and China were considered the most important hurdles to clear.[42]

On November 21, Disney expected to get approval from Brazil's antitrust division, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), within two weeks.[43] On December 3, CADE stated that the deal would concentrate the market of cable sports channels. CADE recommended remedial measures, and has until March 23, 2019 to issue a decision; the deadline may be extended for 90 days.[44]

On December 13, Disney announced a new organizational structure for its international operations and the individuals who would join the company, including Rebecca Campbell, Jan Koeoppen, Diego Lerner and Uday Shankar. Shankar who currently serves as Chairman and President Fox Networks Group Asia and Star India will lead Disney's Asian operations and will become the new Chairman of Disney India.[45]

By December 14, the merger was subjected to regulation in Mexico, where Disney/Fox would account for 27.8% of content distribution across all genres. Sports broadcasting was Mexico's main concern.[46]

On December 26, NBC News reported that the deal is expected to close on the last week of January 2019.[47]

On January 3, 2019, Bloomberg reported that Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) is expected to approve the media-asset deal without pressing for any property sales. CADE is expecting to see a proposal from the two companies that includes behavioral changes after some back-and-forth meetings in December. Concerns centered on the sports impact from the combination of ESPN and Fox Sports. According to the report, CADE is aware that other services compete in sports broadcasting. A ruling could come as soon as January 30, when regulators come back from year-end recess.[48]

On January 7, 21st Century Fox filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to create Fox Corporation, the company to be spun off in connection with the Walt Disney Company's acquisition of most of its film and television assets. Fox Corporation will include the company's branded news, sports and entertainment assets: Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.[49][50]

On January 11, Fox Corporation said in a securities filing that it has no plans to bid on the Fox regional sports networks that Disney is selling to get approval for the assets to be acquired from 21st Century Fox. The deal between Disney and Fox is expected to close between February and March.[51] However, on January 30, in a SEC filing by Disney, it was reported that the deal is expected to close by June.[52]

On January 31, Mexico's Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE) approved the Disney-Fox deal after Disney agreed to sell its stake in Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing de México, a Mexican film distributor, to Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.[53]

On February 5, during Disney's Q1 2019 earnings call, Bob Iger confirmed that Disney was still waiting on approval from the "last few remaining markets" for Disney-Fox.[54]

On February 12, Bob Iger met with Brazil's antitrust regulator CADE to discuss the Disney-Fox deal. However a decision on the deal still could not be reached. CADE has until March 17th to make a decision. If the deal is not discussed at CADE's February 27th meeting then an extension will most likely be given extending the review a further 90 days. Regulators are split on whether the deal can be approved without the need for Disney to sell either Fox Sports or ESPN.[55] However, on February 20, Bloomberg confirmed that CADE will make its ruling on the Disney-Fox deal on February 27, 2019.[56]

On February 21, Bloomberg reported that Disney will divest Fox Sports in Brazil and Mexico to get approval in these countries. The two countries are among the last major hurdles for the Disney-Fox deal.[57]

On February 27, Brazil's antitrust agency CADE approved the merger with conditions requiring Disney to divest Fox Sports Brazil among other measures. The regulator said that they coordinated with regulators in Mexico and Chile in evaluating the transaction. Brazil's approval clears one of the final hurdles, allowing the deal to be completed as early as March.[58]

On March 4, The Walt Disney Comoany tweaked Robert Iger’s compensation package he would receive upon closing the Disney-Fox deal, removing $13.5 million in potential salary and incentive awards available for the chief executive after the company closes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc. assets.[59]

On March 5, Disney announced that Craig Hunegs would lead the combined TV operations at Disney Television Studios once the Disney-Fox deal closes. Hunegs will be president of the division, with oversight of all operations, including ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 TV studios. He'll report to Dana Walden, currently chairman/CEO of Fox Television Group who will be chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.[60]

On March 7, Bob Iger stated at an annual meeting that the Disney–Fox deal would be ready to close 'soon', and that following the acquisition, 20th Century Fox would still keep its name alongside Fox Searchlight, and the FX Networks.[61]

On March 11, Mexico's telecom regulator, Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) approved the deal under the condition that Disney and Fox agree to sell Fox Sports in the country. They also had to keep the National Geographic brand separate from its A&E channels. This cleared the last major holdout on the deal.[62]

On March 12, Disney announced that it has set to close the Fox deal on March 20, 2019.[63]

On March 19, 2019, Fox Corporation officially became a standalone, publicly traded company, separate from 21st Century Fox, making Fox Corp the owner of the assets that were not acquired by Disney. The announcement also included appointment of the board of directors.[64] Also on March 19, 2019, 21st Century Fox officially completed distribution of shares ahead of the completion of the Disney deal on March 20th.[65]

On March 20, 2019, the deal was officially completed.[66]

Productions

X-Men

Fantastic Four

Deadpool

Co-productions

New Regency

Constantin Film

Marv Films

References

  1. Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., After Spin-Off Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock, The Walt Disney Company, December 14, 2017
  2. Fox Jumps on Report That Comcast Is Considering Counterbid to Disney, Bloomberg, May 7, 2018
  3. Disney rounding up cash to fight off Comcast's rival bid for Fox, Fierce Cable, May 29, 2018
  4. Fox And Disney Set Shareholder Meetings For Vote On Merger, Deadline Hollywood, May 30, 2018
  5. Decisive AT&T Victory Sets Stage for Comcast to Challenge Disney for 21st Century Fox Assets, Variety, June 12, 2018
  6. Comcast makes $65 billion offer to steal 21st Century Fox away from Disney, The Verge, June 13, 2018
  7. Yankees Consider Buying Back YES If Fox Sells Assets, Bloomberg, June 14, 2018
  8. Disney is expected to add cash to its bid for Twenty-First Century Fox assets, CNBC, June 18, 2018
  9. Disney Offers to Take on Sky News for 15 Years; Channel to Get $2 Billion Investment, Variety, June 19, 2018
  10. Disney Sweetens Offer for Fox to $71 Billion, Outbidding Comcast, Bloomberg, June 20, 2018
  11. The Walt Disney Company Signs Amended Acquisition Agreement To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., For $71.3 Billion In Cash And Stock, The Walt Disney Company, June 20, 2018
  12. Fox agrees to Disney's new $71.3 billion offer, rejecting Comcast, CNET, June 20, 2018
  13. Disney's Bob Iger On Need For Fox Deal: "The Consumer Is Voting — Loudly", Deadline Hollywood, June 20, 2018
  14. Disney wins US antitrust approval to buy Fox assets, CNBC, June 27, 2018
  15. Disney, Fox Set Shareholder Voting Date for $71 Billion Deal, Variety, June 28, 2018
  16. Disney and Fox schedule July 27 shareholder votes on merger — upping pressure on Comcast, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2018
  17. Murdoch's Fox increases Sky bid to £24.5bn in takeover battle, BBC.com, July 11, 2018
  18. Comcast Raises Bid for Sky as Regulatory Decision Accelerates Sale Process, Variety, July 11, 2018
  19. 21st Century Fox Given Clearance To Buy Sky By British Government, Deadline Hollywood, July 12, 2018
  20. The DOJ has a slim chance of blocking the AT&T-Time Warner deal, but even that may be enough for Comcast to throw in the towel on Fox, CNBC, July 13, 2018
  21. DOJ challenge to AT&T-Time Warner deal could affect Disney and Comcast's bidding war for Fox, says AT&T's Stephenson, CNBC, July 13, 2018
  22. Disney's $71 Billion Fox Bid Wins Backing From ISS, Glass Lewis, Bloomberg, July 13, 2018
  23. British regulator sets 14 pound floor under Sky shares, Reuters, July 13, 2018
  24. Comcast unlikely to raise Fox bid; focused on Sky: Sources, CNBC, July 16, 2018
  25. Sky Hearing on Same Day as Fox Vote Complicates Comcast Bid, Bloomberg, July 18, 2018
  26. Comcast gives up on buying 21st Century Fox assets and leaves Disney as the winner, The Verge, July 19, 2018
  27. TCI Votes in Favor of Disney's Offer for Fox's Assets, Bloomberg, July 25, 2018
  28. Fox and Disney Shareholders Vote to Approve $71.3 Billion Merger, The Wrap, July 27, 2018
  29. Disney Investors Worry Beijing Could Be Tricky Fox Deal Hurdle, Bloomberg, July 27, 2018
  30. Deadline for New Fox Bid for Sky Is Set for September, Variety, August 7, 2018
  31. Fox has until Sept. 22 to top Comcast's bid for Sky, CNBC, August 8, 2018
  32. Viacom wants to License its TV Ads Targeting Tech to the Entire Industry and its Starting with Fox, Business Insider, August 9, 2018
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