About 45 minutes after the Walt Disney Co. closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox around midnight East coast time, CEO Bob Iger sent a note to staff saying, “We are rapidly transforming our company to take full advantage of evolving consumer trends and emerging technology in order to thrive in this new and exciting time.”
As the deal closed, the company’s official website got a makeover and added pictures of iconic Fox properties. Characters from The Simpsons, Avatar, Deadpool and Atlanta, as well as images of IPL cricket and soccer, were added to the homepage alongside characters from well-known Disney properties Frozen, Star Wars, Captain Marvel and Toy Story. The addition of Fox properties reflects the huge breadth and diversity of content now under Disney’s banner.
Iger added in his note, “I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us; that closing the deal was the finish line, rather than just the next milestone. What lies ahead is the challenging work of uniting our businesses to create a dynamic, global entertainment company.”
Under the terms of the mega-deal, Disney is adding the Fox film and TV studio, the FX networks, National Geographic, Indian TV giant Star India and Fox’s 30 percent stake in streaming service Hulu to its portfolio. Disney has increased its stake in Hulu to 60 percent, with Comcast owning 30 percent, and AT&T’s Warner Media 10 percent of the streaming service.
Disney must still sell 22 regional sports networks in the U.S. and its sports networks in Brazil and Mexico as part of regulatory approvals in those markets. In Europe, the company agreed to sell its stakes in such networks as Lifetime and History.
Iger’s note to employees is below:
I’m proud to announce the acquisition is complete and 21st Century Fox is now part of The Walt Disney Company. I’d like to welcome our new colleagues, and thank employees on both sides of the deal for your patience and perseverance as we worked through the lengthy acquisition and regulatory process.
As you know, Disney has never been short on ambition. We’ve never been satisfied with the status quo, and our vision for this transformative era is our boldest yet. We are rapidly transforming our company to take full advantage of evolving consumer trends and emerging technology in order to thrive in this new and exciting time.
Our acquisition of 21st Century Fox was driven by our strong belief that the addition of these great businesses, brands, franchises and talent will allow us to move faster, reach farther and aim higher – especially when it comes to building direct connections with consumers.
I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us; that closing the deal was the finish line, rather than just the next milestone. What lies ahead is the challenging work of uniting our businesses to create a dynamic, global entertainment company with the content, the platforms, and the reach to deliver industry-defining experiences that will engage consumers around the world for generations to come.
We’ve spent the last year exploring the new opportunities and synergies generated by bringing our two legendary companies together. Leaders across both organizations have worked closely together to understand how to best unlock this potential and unleash innovation and creativity to generate long-term growth. We’re confident in our integration strategy and in our ability to execute it effectively; and we’re inspired and energized by the new possibilities.
Our integration process will be an evolution, with some businesses impacted more than others. We’ve made many critical decisions already, but some areas still require further evaluation. We may not have answers to all of your questions at this moment, but we understand how vital information is, and we’re committed to moving as quickly as possible to provide clarity regarding how your role may be impacted.
Having been on both sides of numerous acquisitions during my career, I have a deep appreciation for how this one impacts everyone involved, on both a personal and professional level. I understand the challenges, and I ask for your continued patience in the days to come as we combine this collection of great assets to create the world’s premier entertainment company.
March 20, 7 am PST Updated story throughout with Disney CEO Bob Iger’s note to employees.