Fox Sets Leaders After Sale -- WSJ

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05/17/2018 | 08:48 am
Rupert Murdoch


By Aisha Al-Muslim



This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (May 17, 2018).



21st Century Fox has named the new leaders of the proposed remaining Fox company if its pending deal to sell much of the company to Walt Disney Co. closes.



Lachlan Murdoch will serve as chairman and chief executive of the so-called New Fox, while Rupert Murdoch will serve as co-chairman, 21st Century Fox said Wednesday. 21st Century Fox Chief Financial Officer John Nallen will take a broader role as chief operating officer at the New Fox



The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Lachlan Murdoch was expected to become chief executive of the New Fox, and John Nallen was expected to become operating chief, citing people familiar with the matter.



The Journal also reported that 21st Century Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch, Lachlan's younger brother, is planning to strike out on his own if the Disney deal closes, most likely by starting a venture-capital fund to invest in digital and international media businesses, people familiar with the matter have said.



Last December, Disney announced an agreement to purchase the bulk of Fox for $52.4 billion. The decision to sell marked the end of an era for 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his family, which have a 39% voting interest in Fox.



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



The New Fox will be formed after shareholder and regulatory approval of the proposed transaction between 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney. Fox said in December it expected the deal to take 12 to 18 months to close.



Meanwhile, cable giant Comcast Corp. is making preparations to potentially pursue a hostile, all-cash bid for these assets and has lined up the necessary financing, people familiar with the matter say.



Before the Disney deal was reached, Comcast had submitted an offer for the Fox assets that was 16% higher than Disney's, but Fox turned it down partly over fears that it wouldn't pass muster with antitrust regulators, according to a regulatory filing last month and people familiar with the situation.



If the Disney deal is completed, the New Fox would feature assets including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.



"The new Fox will begin as the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best -- sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a U.S. audience," Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday in prepared remarks.



Lachlan Murdoch currently serves as executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox and executive co-chairman of News Corp.



21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.



Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at aisha.al-muslim@wsj.com





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