Wednesday 20 March 2019 9:38 am

Disney closes $71bn takeover of 21st Century Fox as it puts Netflix in its sights

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Disney has completed its mammoth $71bn (£54bn) takeover of 21st Century Fox in a deal that transforms the media landscape and puts Netflix’s domination at risk.

The deal, which went through shortly after midnight in New York, sees Disney take control of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV business, as well as National Geographic and a controlling stake in streaming service Hulu.

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“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us – one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” said Disney chairman and chief executive Robert Iger.

“Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the pre-eminent global entertainment company, well-positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

The takeover, which was secured after a lengthy bidding war with rival Comcast, gives Disney control over a wide portfolio of major franchises, including The Simpsons, Deadpool and X-Men.

The move puts Disney in a strong position ahead of the launch of its streaming service later this year, which could pose a threat to the dominance of on-demand giants Netflix and Amazon.

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The deal has led to the spin-off of Fox’s news and sports assets, including Fox News Channel and Fox Broadcast Network, into Fox Corporation, which made its debut on the Nasdaq yesterday.

But the merger has also led to fears of job losses, with reports that 4,000 staff members of staff could be laid off as the new group looks to cut costs.