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Authorities condition sale of Fox assets to Disney group

The regulatory authorities today conditioned the sale of a series of assets of the firm 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney group to exclude 22 regional sports television channels.

The condition has been accepted in principle by the Disney group, so, if the agreement in the courts is ratified, it will then have the official green light to close an operation valued at 71,300 million dollars, not including debt assumed.

In an official statement, the Department of Justice announced that the Antitrust Division filed today in a court in New York an appeal to block that acquisition for alleged injuries to free competition by demanding the sale of regional chains.

However, at the same time that this appeal was filed, an extrajudicial agreement was announced, which, if accepted by the judge, will imply that Fox will get rid of those regional channels to have the official green light.

The Department of Justice recalled that Disney and Fox compete in the licensing of sports programs, so the merger by absorption could generate injuries for free competition in that sector.

By accepting this condition, the regional chains will have to be sold to a third firm that is accepted by the regulators.

The company 21st Century Fox, the consortium led by Rupert Murdoch, announced its intention to divest the film production company 20th Century Fox and the Nat Geo and FX television channels, among other assets.

Murdoch’s idea is to concentrate on the news sector, retaining Fox News and Fox Sports, as well as the television stations that distribute that news, a conglomerate that will be renamed New Fox.

The two companies have been in negotiations since last year, but the Comcast consortium, which includes the NBC and Telemundo networks, was also trying to get hold of those Fox assets and even surpassed the initial offer that Disney had made.

In response, the Walt Disney group opted on June 20 to present an even higher offer that, including assumed debt, reaches 85,100 million dollars.

The decision announced today was received with an advance of 1.11% in the Disney titles at half a session of Wall Street and a gain of 1.24% in the Fox, while the Comcast back 0.2% .

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