Shares of 21st Century Fox rose moderately in early trading Tuesday after CNBC added new fuel to speculation that the Murdoch-controlled company would sell a significant chunk of its assets to the Walt Disney Co. It’s the latest report to suggest Disney could snap up Fox assets like the FX cable network, corporate stakes in the video-streaming hub Hulu and the European satellite broadcaster Sky PLC and a passel of other media properties.
CNBC anchor David Faber reported in a Tuesday broadcast that Disney could buy a portion of the Fox assets for a price valued around $60 billion, and suggested a deal could be announced as early as next week. The transaction would not include the Fox broadcast network, the sports cable network Fox Sports 1 or the Fox News Channel.
A spokesman for 21st Century Fox could not be reached for immediate comment.
As Variety reported last month, Fox has continued to hold preliminary discussions with Comcast, Disney, and other potential suitors about a sale process of the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, the FX Networks and National Geographic cable group, Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu, and international TV platforms including Star India and its 39% interest in European satellite broadcaster Sky. Executives at Comcast and NBCUniversal are “being very serious” in studying the Fox assets and trying crunch the numbers with publicly available information, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sony and Verizon Communications are among the parties that have also expressed interest.
Shares of 21st Century Fox earlier rose 1.57%, or 52 cents per share, to $33.56 a share from $33.13 a share. Volume stood around 6.19 million shares, compared with the stock’s average of 11.04 million.