Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) is finalizing a pact to acquire a large piece of 21st Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOXA), people familiar with the situation say, in a deal that could help the entertainment giant accelerate its ambitions in streaming media, shore up its television business and grab hold of lucrative movie franchises.
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The deal, which is expected to be announced Thursday, values 21st Century Fox as a whole at just over $40 a share, the people said.
Disney would pay as much as $29 a share for Fox assets including the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio, cable networks including regional sports networks, and key international assets, they said. It is expected to be an all-stock transaction and Disney would assume some Fox debt.
Most of the assets Disney is buying would be put to use in Chief Executive Robert Iger's quest to transform his company into a streaming-video giant that can go head-to-head with rivals such as Netflix Inc. He wants Disney to have its own relationships with consumers and a broad array of content to offer them online.
Mr. Iger also wants to strengthen Disney's largest business, television, which has taken a hit as consumers cut back on traditional cable packages and spend more time with digital providers.
The deal would mark a significant turn for Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The remaining Fox assets, which would be spun off as part of the transaction, would include the Fox News cable channel, the Fox broadcast network and the Fox Sports 1 sports channel.
21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-parent News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) share common ownership.