Sky investor Odey opposes Fox bid as Disney talks fuel uncertainty

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Reports say the companies have been negotiating off and on for the last few weeks, with no deal now on the table.

The British company was already starting to build a pan-European streaming platform with its Now TV and Sky Ticket products, and the addition of content from Disney as well as Fox would only make that more compelling, it said. Facebook, Alphabet's Google, Netflix and Amazon have dramatically changed the landscape within the media industry, causing big changes in how people consume media and becoming dominant in digital distribution. The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Fritz, Flint & Hagey in a front-page piece cite sources as saying that Fox "wasn't happy with the terms Disney proposed, but is open to the idea of selling the assets".

While the exact details and pricing of the whole deal remains to be seen, the most explicit parts of it included buying up FX, all of Fox's offerings on television, and most importantly, the rights to the Marvel characters they still own. The two media conglomerates, which have talked about a deal in recent months, collectively control 29.6 percent of the US film market, and a sizable chunk of the worldwide market.

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Disney was reportedly interested in buying Fox assets including its studio division, partial ownership of the United Kingdom telecoms company Sky, and networks such as National Geographic and FX.

Fox shares leapt 8.9 percent on the news to $26.62 while Disney rose 2.04 percent to finish at $100.65 on Wall Street. Traditional media giants are scrambling to increase their scale and add new businesses, particularly after AT&T's bid for HBO and CNN owner Time Warner Inc, which is awaiting regulatory approval. A couple of years ago, for instance, Marvel reached a deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man to the MCU, an arrangement that was announced shortly after reports surfaced indicating that deal was also dead. Credit Suisse analysts said the talks increase uncertainty around the Sky transaction. Chief Executive Bob Iger has said he plans to retire from Disney in July 2019, and the company is searching for a successor.

Disney was reportedly interested in buying networks such as National Geographic and FX, among others. Fox said in August that it expects to see high single-digit domestic affiliate fee growth every quarter in fiscal 2018. United Kingdom media regulator Ofcom, though, determined that even coupled with News Corp, which owns three British newspapers and is also controlled by the Murdochs, the powerful media family's assets would still be considered only the third-largest provider of news in the United Kingdom.

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