Disney-Fox Deal Gets Mexico Clearance Subject to Sports Network Sale

Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum
Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger

The entertainment giants clear one of the final hurdles for their $71.3 billion mega-deal.

Mexico's antitrust regulator on Tuesday approved Walt Disney's $71.3 billion takeover of large parts of 21st Century Fox, subject to the sale of the Fox Sports channels in the country.

In a concession to regulators, Disney agreed to the sale of Fox Sports and the networks' broadcast rights, similar to a recent agreement with regulators in Brazil.

Together, Disney's ESPN and Fox Sports would have controlled 80 percent of Mexico's pay TV sports market, according to the country's Federal Telecommunications Institute. The asset sale must be concluded within six months, the regulator said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Walt Disney Co. said it expects its acquisition of 21st Century Fox to close on March 20.

At Disney's annual shareholder meeting held last week in St. Louis, Disney CEO Bob Iger said: "We will hit the ground running as soon as the deal closes."

The Mexican approval was one of the final hurdles for the mega-deal. Iger reportedly traveled recently to Latin America to seal the regulatory approvals.

The sports-TV market power of the combined Disney-Fox was also a regulatory concern in the U.S., where the Department of Justice approved the deal with the stipulation that Disney divest Fox’s 22 regional sports networks.

The mega-deal will unite Disney's Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar brands with Fox's Avatar, X-Men and Simpsons franchises, boosting the Hollywood giant's film and TV studio. Its cable networks business will benefit from the addition of the FX networks and National Geographic. The deal will also boost Disney's ownership stake in the streaming service Hulu to 60 percent and expand its international TV business with the addition of Star India.

Georg Szalai in London contributed to this report.