New Fox Won't Bid for Disney's Regional Sports Networks

Rupert Murdoch - Getty - H 2018
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Disney earlier agreed to spin off the sports channels to win regulatory approval to buy Fox's film and TV assets for $71 billion.

New Fox, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, on Friday said it has no plans to bid for the 22 Fox regional sports networks that regulators have said Walt Disney must divest as part of its acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox.

"In connection with these preliminary discussions, Fox confirms that it does not intend to bid for any of the Fox regional sports networks that Disney (or any entity operating on its behalf) may sell as required by the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice," New Fox, which is run by Lachlan Murdoch, said Friday in an SEC 8-K filing.

Private equity firms Apollo Global Management, KKR and Blackstone Group and Sinclair Broadcast Group are among rival media companies to have reportedly expressed interest in making first round bids for the regional sports networks.

Analysts have said the sports networks could fetch around $20 billion. New Fox, the company that will consist of the assets not being sold to Disney for $71 billion, earlier said it could join the bidding in the second round, but has now signaled to investors that it will not do so when second round bids are expected by the end of January.

Disney's deal to acquire the film and TV studio, an additional stake in Hulu, a stake in Sky, Star India and some cable channels (though not Fox News or Fox Business) includes the regional sport networks that regulators told Disney to sell due to its ownership of ESPN.

Rupert Murdoch has named the remaining assets "Fox," and besides Fox News and Fox Business, his group consists of the broadcast network and cable sports networks, including FS1 and FS2, which could have complemented the regional sport networks.