Disney Offers EU Concessions Over $71.3 Billion Fox Deal

Bob Iger, Rupert Murdoch - H - 2017
Credit: The Walt Disney Company

The European Commission has extended its deadline to Nov. 11. for its review of the media mega-deal.

The Walt Disney Co. has offered unspecified concessions in its bid to get regulatory approval for its planned $71.3 billion takeover of large parts of 21st Century Fox, the European Commission said Monday.

Neither Disney nor the Commission provided details about the concessions offered by Disney in its attempt to allay antitrust concerns surrounding the Fox deal. The Commission said it has extended the deadline for its review of the deal from Oct. 19 to Nov. 11.

The regulator is expected to seek feedback from customers and rivals of the two media giants before deciding whether to accept Disney's concessions or demand more. Disney secured approval from the U.S. Justice Department for the deal in June on the condition that it will sell off Fox’s 22 regional sports networks.

The Fox deal would expand Disney’s already powerful position in the feature film business, uniting Disney's Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar properties with Fox's Avatar, X-Men and The Simpsons franchises. The deal also brings together Disney's television assets, including ABC and ESPN with Fox's FX Networks, National Geographic and some 300 international channels, along with Fox’s stake in Hulu, which would give Disney a 60 percent stake in the online streaming service.

European regulators are likely to focus on the combined group's might in the theatrical market and whether it constitutes a violation of EU antitrust law.

Disney's position in the European television market should be less problematic after the company failed in its bid to acquire Fox's stake in European pay TV giant Sky, losing out in a separate auction to Comcast, which itself had tried, unsuccessfully, to acquire much of Fox.