×

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

  • Don Edkins, documentary filmmaker

    Documentary Filmmaker Don Edkins on ‘Creating an African Voice’ 

    DURBAN–For the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, a new strand was created to look at the unique challenges and opportunities facing documentary filmmakers in Africa. The two-day program, Durban Does Docs, offers a series of conversations, seminars and workshops with an intensive focus on the aesthetics, funding, distribution [...]

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart Director

    Film News Roundup: Olivia Wilde to Direct Holiday Comedy for Universal

    In today’s film news roundup, Olivia Wilde has landed another directing gig following “Booksmart” and revenge thriller “Seaside” and “Woodstock: The Directors Cut” get August release dates. PROJECT LAUNCH Olivia Wilde will direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy project for Universal Pictures with her “Booksmart” partner Katie Silberman. Universal outbid five other studios for [...]

  • Choas Charles Mansion and the CIA

    Amazon Studios Takes Film Rights to Manson-Centered Drama 'Chaos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the grisly murders executed by the followers of Charles Manson, Amazon Studios has optioned film rights to a nonfiction title about a journalist who spent decades obsessively following the case. The studio will adapt “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties,” from [...]

  • Sword of Trust

    Marc Maron on 'Sword of Trust,' Lynn Shelton and Conspiracy Theories

    Marc Maron has interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Obama, so he’s probably learned a few things about being a good interview. Of course, as he points out, he generally has over an hour to talk leisurely speak with his guests in his home and draw out stories beyond the public narrative; it’s a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content