Fox shareholders to vote on $71 billion Disney bid July 27

The 21st Century Fox logo is displayed outside the News Corporation building in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York. (Reuters pic)

NEW YORK: Shareholders of 21st Century Fox Inc. are set to meet July 27 to vote on Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion offer for its entertainment assets.

The special meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, Disney said in a regulatory filing. Disney shareholders will also consider the transaction.

Disney won antitrust approval for its deal from the US Department of Justice Wednesday, giving it another edge over Comcast Corp., which is also vying for the assets. The Fox board last week accepted Disney’s sweetened bid for a trove of media properties ranging from “The Simpsons” to “X-Men,”favouring its offer over Comcast’s interest for a second time.

Fox’s controlling shareholders, Rupert Murdoch and his family, can only vote their 17% economic interest in a takeover vote because Class A and B shareholders each have the same voting power.

Fox first agreed in December to sell the assets to Disney in a $52.4 billion transaction, overlooking Comcast’s interest mainly because of concerns the cable television company would have greater difficulty obtaining regulatory approval. Comcast countered with a $65 billion, all-cash offer this month before Disney sweetened its proposal to include cash and stock.

The strength of Disney’s currency and its smoother regulatory path make it “relatively easy” for Fox’s board to prefer a Disney bid “without risking compromise of their fiduciary obligation to shareholders,” analysts at MoffettNathanson said last week. “A Comcast bid for Fox carries far more regulatory risk than does a bid from Disney,” they said.