President Trump fully supports 21st Century Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) sale of select entertainment assets to Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) for $52.4 billion, according to the White House.
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“I know that the President spoke to Rupert Murdoch earlier today and congratulated him on the deal and thinks—to use one of the President’s favorite words—‘this could be a great thing for jobs’ and [he] certainly looks forward to seeing a lot more of those created,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a Thursday afternoon press briefing.
Under the deal, Disney will get 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Regional Sports Network, Star India and a 39.1% stake in Sky News, as well as an additional stake in streaming service Hulu.
The Murdoch-controlled empire will keep its core news and sports units: Fox News, Fox Business and Fox Sports, which will create a new entity that the company has labeled the “new Fox.”
“The new Fox will have Fox News, FOX Business, Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports, but the point is it will have a cash flow of at least $2 billion a year,” explained Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, during an interview on FOX Business’ “Mornings with Maria,” while also noting that he is ready to build another business. “We can see expanding that and taking other opportunities and building another great company.”
However, Trump’s support of the deal comes nearly a month after he openly slammed another media mega-merger between AT&T (NYSE:T) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) that is currently in ligation after the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the $85 billion deal.
"Personally, I've always felt that that was a deal that's not good for the country. I think your pricing is going to go up,” Trump told reporters during an impromptu press conference late November. "But I'm not going to get involved. It's litigation.”
Analysts told FOX Business Thursday that the Disney-Fox deal could signal a new confidence for the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
“This is the new competitive reality in this world, and if the government understands the new competitive reality, they will be more favorable about an AT&T and Time Warner deal,” Gene Del Vecchio, a marketing professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, told FOX Business. “This isn’t the 1950s anymore. In 2018 and beyond, it’s about the traditional studios trying to compete with the Netflixes of the world and the Amazons of the world.”
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he and the company’s legal team will fight the lawsuit in court. The case is set to go to trial on March 19 and is expected to last two weeks.