Jeffrey Ubben Departs 21st Century Fox Board of Directors

ValueAct Capital's Ubben is leaving ahead of the studio's possible Disney takeover as part of a pending $52.4 billion deal.

With the $52.4 Disney-Fox merger looming, ValueAct Capital founder and CEO Jeffrey Ubben has left the board of directors at 21st Century Fox, it was announced Friday.

Ubben, who joined the board in November 2015, offered support for the pending merger as he headed to the exit. "The management and board of Fox has done a superb job of steering the company through a time of transition for the entertainment industry. We are highly supportive of the proposed transaction with Disney and the bright future of the New Fox," he said in a statement.

In addition to joining the board of 21st Century Fox, Ubben's San Francisco-based ValueAct, with $11 billion under management, owns 7 percent of Fox's voting shares. In 2015, the activist hedge fund manager also bought a 17 percent stake in UTA as he eyes investment in Hollywood.

Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairmen of 21st Century Fox, in their own joint statement praised Ubben's contribution. "Jeff has been an important partner during a transformational period. Our board and, ultimately, our shareholders, have benefited enormously from his many contributions. On behalf of our entire board, we thank Jeff for his exemplary service," they wrote.

Disney's deal would see the Hollywood studio gobble up most of Fox's assets, and mark a seismic shift for the major studios as they look to compete against Netflix and other digital disrupters.

The deal will see Disney buying Fox's film and TV studio; the National Geographic and FX cable channels business; regional sports networks; international networks, including Star India; Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu; and its 39 percent stake in European pay TV giant Sky.

Before the acquisition is completed, Fox is set to separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.