Now that the Walt Disney Co (ticker: DIS) buyout of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) is nearing completion, attention has shifted to which company could buy Fox’s 22 regional sports networks. Experts say Disney could land roughly $20 billion for Fox’s sports assets, and the cash infusion will be much-needed as DIS invests heavily in its new streaming service.
As part of the terms of the Fox buyout, Disney agreed to divest Fox’s regional sports networks, which hold the broadcasting rights of 44 professional sports teams. Over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that people familiar with the matter say there are several companies interested in bidding for Fox’s regional sports networks. While Disney spent most of the year in a bidding war with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) for Fox, the tables are now turned and Disney could end up the big winner if a bidding war for Fox’s sports assets breaks out.
Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon.com (AMZN), Blackstone Group (BX) and Apollo Global Management (APO) are reportedly among the companies interested in Fox’s regional sports networks. Comcast could also be interested after missing out on a full buyout of Fox. Comcast already owns seven regional sports networks.
Disney has said it expects its Fox buyout to close in the first half of 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice is requiring DIS to find a buyer for Fox’s regional sports networks within 90 days of the completion of the Fox deal. Disney has the opportunity to file for a single 90-day extension.
Regardless of how Disney unloads Fox’s sports assets, Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif says Disney and Fox make a powerful combination ahead of the planned launch of Disney’s standalone over-the-top streaming movie and TV service in 2019.
“With a leading [intellectual property] portfolio that is poised to expand via pending M&A, we believe…
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