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Disney formally closes deal with Fox, massive layoffs expected

The deal is expected to help Disney in its direct-to-consumer offerings

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MUMBAI: Walt Disney Co (Disney) has finally closed the deal with on its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox (Fox). In recent months, the acquisition received final approval from antitrust regulators across the globe. This merger will lead to thousands being fired, industry experts as well as several media reports speculate.

With the deal, Disney is taking over majority of Fox’s assets including 20th Century Fox studio, the FX and National Geographic cable networks, and an additional 30 percent of Hulu. The giant media conglomerate thinks the deal will help it increase its international footprint along with expanding its direct-to-consumer offerings.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a press release. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era,” he added.

Bob Iger promised $2 billion in cost savings which clearly indicates to epic job cuts. While Disney is taking on 15,400 Fox employees, the smaller new Fox Corp will keep about 7,000. The layoffs are expected to come down heavily on domestic market first. “You can anticipate more domestic at the front end, just because of regulatory issues outside of the US,” Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said earlier as quoted by Bloomberg.  The number of cuts could reach up to 4000, maybe even higher than that. Most of the jobs that are expected to be hit by the acquisition are duplicate ones.

To take on this bet, Disney has to sell 22 regional sports networks in the US and its sports networks in Brazil and Mexico as part of regulatory approvals. The company also agreed to sell its stakes in such networks as Lifetime and History in Europe.

Although the Fox deal will help Disney in its direct to consumer business, the cost of launching Disney+ is expected to impact the company’s financials next year.  A study from the research firm Ampere Analysis suggested that Comcast, after the acquisition of European pay TV giant Sky, and Walt Disney, after its Fox deal, will dominate global content spending.

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