Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
The planned acquisition of 20th Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company is expected to close by summer of next year, according to Fox President Peter Rice.
The merger, which will bring together two of Hollywood’s most historic brands and reunite the vast majority of the Star Wars and Marvel Comics film rights, was announced late last year, and at the time, Disney said they expected the regulatory approval process to take between 12 and 18 months.
The larger Fox company — 21st Century Fox, which owns the 20th Century Fox film and television studios as well as various Fox-branded entertainment, news, and publishing ventures — will be trimmed down and renamed for a post-Disney existence. Rice told his audience that management plans to change to the new company, which will likely be called simply Fox, and it will be announced over the next year, in the interest of calming investors and reassuring the market that Fox will continue to function after the Disney deal goes through and the lion’s share of the company assets are taken over.
Several Democrats have suggested that Congress might conduct anti-trust hearings, but Congressional approval would not be needed for the merger to succeed. It is likely to be approved by the Justice Department.
The Trump administration seemed keen to block a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, but the situations are somewhat different: AT&T owns a huge amount of physical infrastructure for delivering data, and if they were to acquire Time Warner, the argument goes that they could begin to corner that market and limit consumer choice. Critics have argued that the real motivation is Donald Trump’s feud with CNN, the cable news provider owned by Time Warner.