One of the biggest acquisitions in entertainment history took another step toward completion on July 27 when shareholders from California-based Disney and New York-based 21st Century Fox voted in favor of a deal worth $71.3 billion. The path was cleared for Disney to close the deal on July 19 when Comcast announced that it was bowing out of the race. The Pennsylvania-based telecommunications company entered the fray in June with a $65 billion bid for assets that include the FRX Network, the 21st Century Fox movie studio and National Geographic.
Shareholders from both companies gathered at the same New York City hotel to approve the deal, but the two meetings were very different. A large percentage of Fox stock is held by the company’s founder Rupert Murdoch and members of his family, and only a small room at the New York Hilton was needed to accommodate the 50 or so Fox shareholders who attended. Disney, on the other hand, had a far higher turnout and rented one of the Manhattan hotel’s ballrooms to hold the meeting.
The shareholder approval clears the way for Disney and Fox executives to complete a journey that began in December 2017 with a $52.4 billion opening bid. The acquisition must still be approved by government regulators, but it should be completed early in 2019 according to a senior Disney representative. The acquisition includes several pieces of valuable intellectual property and gives Disney the only Star Wars and Marvel assets they do not already own.
Negotiating mergers and acquisitions can be a delicate process, and this is especially true when regulatory approval must be obtained. Attorneys with experience in this area may help businesses to avoid common pitfalls by performing thorough due diligence and ensuring that all documents are drafted carefully to avoid misunderstandings.