×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Disney, 21st Century Fox Shareholders Vote to Approve $71.3 Billion Merger

Shareholders of 21st Century Fox and Disney have voted to approve Disney’s $71.3 billion buyout of major Fox assets.

Shareholders gathered Friday morning at the New York Hilton for separate meetings to vote on the historic transaction that the companies first set back in December. Both meetings were brief, lasting less than 15 minutes.

Gerson Zweifach, general counsel of 21st Century Fox, told Fox shareholders the merger is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. He hailed the deal as a transformative transaction that will enable us to unlock significant value for our stockholders.” 

The Disney gathering was short and perfunctory. Led by Disney general counsel Alan Braverman and CFO Christine McCarthy, the vote took less than 10 minutes and received near unanimous approval from Disney shareholders.

During the discussion preceding the vote, only one shareholder — who identified himself as an economics professor at Duquesne University — protested, simply saying “I think we are overpaying for Fox.” Another asked if Disney had plans to move its headquarters outside of Burbank, Calif.

At the Fox meeting, a male shareholder came to the microphone to pay tribute to Fox’s Rupert Murdoch and his legacy in the media biz. “Nobody does it like Rupert Murdoch,” he said. “I love Rupert Murdoch.”

Fox’s meeting was held in a small room with about 50 people in attendance, reflecting the large ownership stakes held by the Murdoch family and fewer individual investors. Disney, meanwhile, held its meeting in one of the hotel’s ballrooms, reflecting the broader interest in the company among the general public.

The shareholder vote seals the deal for Disney after it prevailed in a tussle with Comcast over bids for the 21st Century Fox assets, which include the 20th Century Fox studio, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, and other entertainment assets. After the sale, Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch will head the company now dubbed New Fox, which will comprise Fox Broadcasting Co. and Fox’s TV station group, Fox Sports and Fox News.

Disney and Fox first reached a buyout agreement for $52.4 billion in December. Comcast had been in the running last fall but the Fox board opted for Disney as the better fit for most of Murdoch’s Hollywood empire. The shareholder vote was originally set for July 10 but had to be postponed after Comcast unveiled its $65 billion all-cash offer on June 13. Disney responded a week later with a sweetened offer featuring a mix of cash and stock.

Neither Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger or Murdoch attended the meeting. Zweifach told Fox shareholders that the date change for the meeting created scheduling conflicts for numerous Fox board members.

Disney has already received the greenlight from the Justice Department for the purchase, on the condition that it sell off Fox’s 22 regional sports networks within 90 days of closing. Disney still needs to secure a handful of approvals from foreign governments.

“Combining the 21CF businesses with Disney and establishing new ‘Fox’ will unlock significant value for our shareholders,” said Murdoch in a statement. “We are grateful to our shareholders for approving this transaction. I want to thank all of our executives and colleagues for their enormous contributions in building 21st Century Fox over the past decades. With their help, we expect the enlarged Disney and new ‘Fox’ companies will be pre-eminent in the entertainment and media industries.” Iger echoed Murdoch’s sentiment in a statement.

“We’re incredibly pleased that shareholders of both companies have granted approval for us to move forward, and are confident in our ability to create significant long-term value through this acquisition of Fox’s premier assets,” said Iger said. “We remain grateful to Rupert Murdoch and to the rest of the 21st Century Fox board for entrusting us with the future of these extraordinary businesses, and look forward to welcoming 21st Century Fox’s stellar talent to Disney and ultimately integrating our businesses to provide consumers around the world with more appealing content and entertainment options.”

Brian Steinberg contributed to this report.

More Film

  • Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and

    Film News Roundup: Leonardo DiCaprio Presenting Robert De Niro SAG Life Achievement Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Leonardo DiCaprio will present Robert De Niro with his SAG Life Achievement Award, the Oliver Sacks documentary finds a home and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television gets a new dean. AWARD PRESENTATION Leonardo DiCaprio has been selected to present Robert De Niro the SAG Life Achievement Award  at [...]

  • KARNAWAL

    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop

    “1917,” Thomas Newman The 20-year collaboration of director Sam Mendes and composer Thomas Newman has encompassed midlife crisis (“American Beauty”), crime in the Depression (“Road to Perdition”), the Gulf War (“Jarhead”), marriage in the 1950s (“Revolutionary Road”) and two James Bond adventures (“Skyfall,” “Spectre”). Now they’ve tackled World War I, with “1917,” but Mendes’ much-talked-about [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • ROAD TRIP – In Disney and

    Disney Boasts a Bevy of Hopefuls for Oscar's Original Song Race

    When the Academy announces its shortlist for song nominations on Dec. 16, you can be certain that at least one Disney song will be on it and probably more. Disney songs have been nominated 33 times in the past 30 years, winning 12 of the gold statuettes. This year, the studio has at least four [...]

  • Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    It’s next to impossible for a documentary score to be Oscar-nominated alongside the dozens of fictional narratives entered each year. But it did happen, just once: In 1975, composer Gerald Fried was nominated for his music for “Birds Do It, Bees Do It,” a documentary on the mating habits of animals. Fried, now 91, perhaps [...]

  • Ron Leibman, Jessica Walter'Mary Stuart' Play

    Ron Leibman, Tony-Winning Actor Known for 'Angels in America' and 'Friends,' Dies at 82

    Ron Leibman, an Emmy-winning actor who garnered a Tony for his work in Broadway’s “Angels in America” and played the father of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green on “Friends,” died on Friday. He was 82. Robert Attermann, CEO of Abrams Artists Agency, confirmed the news to Variety. No further details were immediately available. Leibman, a native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content