Chinese regulators have approved the Walt Disney Company’s $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, clearing an important hurdle for the blockbuster deal between the media giants.
The news goosed the stock of both companies, sending Disney shares up .77% to $117.08 and lifting Fox shares up more than 3% to $49.63. Disney has said that it expects its purchase of key Fox brands such as NatGeo, FX, and 20th Century Fox to close in the first half of 2019. Disney said the deal received “unconditional approval.”
There had been some concern in investment circles that President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China could cause the powers that be in Beijing to throw a wrench in the antitrust approval process, slowing a pact that many expect will transform the entertainment landscape. The deal will give Disney access to key film brands such as Avatar and X-Men, as well as TV hits such as “Atlanta,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “American Horror Story.” Fox’s remaining assets, which include Fox News and Fox Broadcasting, will be spun off into a new independent company.
China has been a key market for Disney. In 2016, the company opened Shanghai Disney Resort, its first theme park in mainland China. At the same time, China has become a key source of box office revenue, emerging as the second biggest market for film, and helping propel the grosses of recent Disney releases such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
CNBC first reported that the deal had been approved by Chinese regulators.