We have all heard about the Disney Fox deal.
On a conference call with analysts discussing a $52B acquisition of key media assets of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA), Disney (NYSE:DIS) chief Bob Iger notes the Disney Fox deal should close in 12-18 months and highlighted the chance to expand Fox’s Avatar franchise particularly considering new theme park lands.
Along with the chance to unify rights and bring more content (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney gets Fox’s distribution rights to the first Star Wars film:
After speculation that Fox CEO James Murdoch would come into Disney in a senior role and perhaps become a succession candidate for Iger, Iger says while Murdoch will be “integral” to combining the companies, “he and I will be discussing whether there is a role for him or not at our company.”
The deal will be accretive to EPS for the second fiscal year after closing, says Disney CFO Christine McCarthy, and Disney expects roughly $2B in cost synergies by 2021.
With Fox continuing to pursue a buyout of the rest of Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY) before its Disney transaction, McCarthy says Disney’s leverage will be about 2.9x total debt/EBITDA; 2.2x if the Fox/Sky deal is not completed. The company expects to return to historical leverage levels in any case 24 months after deal completion.
Taking majority control of Hulu is going to be beneficial and result in “flowing more content in Hulu’s direction,” and managing Hulu “becomes a little more clear, a little more effective” in the new era, Iger says, a major benefit of the Disney Fox deal.
Fox’s regional sports networks are a “perfect complement” to ESPN’s offerings, which are national in nature and will benefit from regional focus, Iger says.
Iger expects the deal to receive a “significant amount of regulatory scrutiny” both in the U.S. and internationally for the Disney Fox deal, but that it will be important to remember the “aim of this combination is to create more high-quality product for consumers around the world” and to deliver it in more compelling ways.