27 July, 2018 /Woori BMO Group/ The shareholders of 21st Century Fox and Disney have voted to approve Disney’s $71.3 billion buyouts of major Fox assets, according to executive wealth executives at Woori BMO Group.
“Shareholders of both companies gathered at the New York Hilton on Friday morning for separate meetings to vote on the historic transaction that the companies initially set back in December. Both meetings were brief and lasted around 15 minutes,” said Andrew Williams, Director of Institutional Equity at Woori BMO Group.
Gerson Zweifach, 21st Century Fox general counsel, told Fox shareholders that the merger is expected to conclude in the first half of 2019. He praised the agreement as a ground-breaking investment allowing us to generate tremendous value for our stockholders.’
The gathering of Disney was short and perfunctory. Led by Disney General Counsel Alan Braverman and Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy, the vote took less than 10 minutes and was approved almost unanimously by Disney shareholders.
During the discussion before the vote, only one shareholder — who identified himself as an economics professor at Duquesne University — protested, simply saying “I think we are overpaying Fox. Another asked if Disney had plans to move its headquarters outside Burbank, Calif.
A male shareholder came onto the microphone at the Fox meeting to pay tribute to Fox’s Rupert Murdoch and his media biz legacy. “No-one does it like Rupert Murdoch,” he said. “I love Rupert Murdoch.”
Fox’s meeting took place in a small room attended by around 50 people, reflecting the large ownership stakes held by the Murdoch family, and fewer individual investors. Meanwhile, Disney held its meeting in one of the hotel’s ballrooms, reflecting the wider general public interest in the company.
The shareholder vote seals the deal for Disney after it won over bids for the 21st Century Fox properties in a tussle with Comcast, including the 20th Century Fox assets, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, and other television assets. After the sale, the company now called New Fox will be led by Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, which will include Fox Broadcasting Co. and the TV station division, Fox Sports and Fox News.
Disney and Fox first concluded a $52.4 billion buyout agreement in December. Comcast was in the running last fall, but the Fox board chose Disney as the best fit for most of the Hollywood empire of Murdoch. The shareholder vote was initially set for 10 July but had to be postponed after Comcast unveiled its all-cash offer of $65 billion on 13 June. A week later, Disney replied with a sweetened deal containing a combination of cash and stock.
“This is expected to be one of the largest acquisitions in recent history, and its effect will be greatly felt throughout the media and entertainment spectrum,” said Christian Harper, Director of EMEA Wealth Management at Woori BMO Group.
Neither Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger nor Murdoch attended. Zweifach told Fox shareholders that the adjustment in the meeting date has generated scheduling problems for various members of the Fox board.
Disney has also earned the green light from the Department of Justice for the acquisition, provided it buys the 22 area sports networks from Fox within 90 days of closure. Disney is yet to win some international policy permits.
“The merger of the 21CF companies with Disney and the creation of a new ‘Fox’ would create tremendous value for our shareholders,” Murdoch said in a statement. “We are grateful to our shareholders for their agreement to this transaction. I would like to thank both our executives and employees for their enormous efforts over the last decades to creating the 21st Century Fox. We believe the expanded Disney with their support, the new ‘Fox’ firms to be pre-eminent in the film the media sectors.” In a tweet, Iger reiterated Murdoch’s sentiment.
“We are incredibly pleased that shareholders from both companies have given us permission to move forward and are confident that through this acquisition of Fox’s leading assets we can create significant long-term value,” Iger said. “We remain grateful to Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the Fox Board of the 21st Century for entrusting us with the future of these extraordinary businesses, and look forward to welcoming Disney’s stellar talent from 21st Century Fox and ultimately integrating our businesses to provide more appealing content and entertainment options for consumers around the world.”