×
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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

  • Jonathan Van NessLos Angeles Beautycon, Portrait

    Jonathan Van Ness Reveals HIV Diagnosis, Former Drug Addiction

    “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness is getting vulnerable in his new memoir “Over the Top.” In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older [...]

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content