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In a bid to calm employees worried about their jobs as Walt Disney prepares to absorb most of 21st Century Fox, a top human resources executive from the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company issued a memo Monday promising “generous severance” to soon-to-be laid-off workers.
“Shared services employees who will not join Fox will automatically become Disney employees, and Disney, post-close, will make all employment decisions,” chief human resources officer Thomas Gaissmaier wrote in his memo.
“While all of you will know prior to closing whether you will join Fox or Disney, some of those decisions might be right up to the date of closing,” Gaissmaier wrote.
In his memo, “Fox” refers to a company that will be made up of the assets left behind once Disney completes its $71.3 billion partial takeover early next year. Disney is getting the film and TV studio, cable channels like FX and Nat Geo, 30 percent of Hulu, Star India and more, while Fox will keep the broadcast network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1 and FS2.
“In the event there isn’t a home for you at Disney or Fox, we’ve made sure there will be a generous severance policy. Anyone whom Disney decides not to retain within the first year after close will be entitled to severance,” Gaissmaier wrote.
The executive acknowledged in his memo that jobs are at stake, though there is no indication as to how many layoffs are expected. Disney has about 195,000 employees to Fox’s 22,000, many of which will be redundant post-merger. Richard Greenfield of BTIG estimates 5,000-10,000 workers will lose their jobs as Disney looks for $2 billion in post-acquisition synergies.
Changes are coming fast as both companies prepare for the deal to close. On Monday, for example, Fox appointed some legal and PR executives — most notably, former White House communications director Hope Hicks was named executive vp and chief communications officer.
Also Monday, Disney announced that Peter Rice, currently the president at 21st Century Fox, will become chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, where he will oversee all of Disney’s TV assets except for ESPN; and that Fox TV Group chairman/CEO Dana Walden will be named chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment. Ben Sherwood, the current boss at Disney TV, will stick around through a transition period and leave shortly after the Fox-Disney deal closes.
Gaissmaier’s entire memo is below:
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