Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox has held talks to sell most of its film and television assets to Walt Disney, which would gain new programming and expand its international reach, CNBC reported on Monday.
Fox’s shares jumped 9.9 percent to close at $27.45 on Nasdaq, and Disney shares climbed 2.0 per cent to $100.64 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The two sides are not currently talking, but had held talks in the last few weeks, CNBC reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
The discussions reflect a view among Fox executives that the media company could not reach the size needed to compete with Amazon.com, Netflix Inc and other major media players, according to CNBC. Representatives of Disney and Fox had no comment.
For Disney, a deal could bring additional programming it could use to lure audiences as the company tries to navigate consumers’ rapid migration to digital viewing and compete with heavy spending by technology companies pushing further into Hollywood. It also could extend Disney’s reach into international markets.
Disney, which under US rules could not own two broadcast networks, would not purchase all of Fox, CNBC reported. It would not seek to buy Fox’s sports programming assets for fear of running foul of antitrust laws with its own ESPN network, and also would not buy Fox News or Fox’s broadcast network or local broadcasting affiliates, the report said. It did discuss buying Fox’s movie and TV production studios, cable networks FX and National Geographic and international assets such as the Star network in India and European pay TV provider Sky, CNBC said.