James Murdoch Apparently Not Disney-Bound After All

James Murdoch Apparently Not Disney-Bound After All

The all-stock Disney deal involves the sale of the Twentieth Century Fox TV and film studio, cable networks including FX and National Geographic, worldwide businesses including Fox's 39% stake in European pay TV company Sky PLC, and a stake in the streaming business Hulu.

James Murdoch will not move to The Walt Disney Co. if a $52.4 billion deal for 21st Century Fox's media assets is completed and will instead look to start a venture capital fund to invest in digital and worldwide media businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Shares in Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox rose overnight on the speculation.

Some of the leading companies and disruptors in movies and television, like Netflix and Amazon, have introduced a new vertical business model that Comcast and Disney are desperate to acquire for themselves - the ability to create and delivery their products directly to the consumer.

Comcast and Fox declined to comment.

Comcast earlier this year made a bid for European satellite company Sky. Comcast is securing financing from banks that would allow it to pursue a bid for the Fox entertainment assets and consolidate 100% ownership of Sky, the people familiar with the situation said. Once seen as a sure thing purchase by The Walt Disney Company, with Comcast talking to investment banks about putting in a bid for 21st Century Fox, Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox is now in peril. Inside Disney, a role for him was always seen as uncertain, according to people familiar with the matter. But despite Comcast's larger bid, Disney CEO Bob Iger is still confident that the Disney/Fox merger will go through. The cable company believes an all-cash offer would be compelling to most Fox shareholders.

The notion of James Murdoch having a possible role at Disney wasn't a factor in Fox's final decision to opt for Disney's offer over Comcast's, according to people familiar with Fox's thinking.

Comcast shares have been under pressure in recent months. The 21st Century Fox intellectual property would add to the exclusive content on that video streaming service.

Related Articles