Walt Disney has agreed a $52.4bn purchase of 21st Century Fox's entertainment properties, which includes a range of the company's sports assets.
Both parties have put the long-rumoured deal down to the “rapidly changing” media industry, as online giants such as Facebook and Amazon continue to establish themselves in new markets.
The acquisition includes Fox’s family of 22 US-based regional sports networks, including the YES Network in New York, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West in Los Angeles. Disney will assume around $13.7bn in debt from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.
As part of the deal, Murdoch (pictured above at the Super Bowl earlier this year) will acquire a 4.25% stake in Disney, which will gain control of Fox's Hollywood film studio and the company's 39% stake in Sky.
According to media reports, it is expected that those regional networks will be rebranded by ESPN, Disney's flagship cable sports network.
Disney will also take ownership of Star TV in India, but the deal does not include Fox's cable sports networks: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, the Big Ten Network or Fox Deportes. Those entities will become part of a new slimmed-down Fox, along with Fox News, Fox Business and other Fox TV stations.
The terms of the deal, which remains subject to approval by regulatory authorities, are expected to take a year to finalise.
Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger has also extended his contract with the company for another two years, through to the end of 2021, in order to oversee the integration of assets.
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