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21st Century Fox Restarts Talks to Sell Most of the Company to Disney

December 4, 2017, 8:57 AM UTC

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) has restarted discussions to purchase most of 21st Century Fox (FOX), said those briefed on the talks on Sunday.

The Financial Times reported negotiations are focused on Fox’s film studio, cable channels such as FX, and international networks like Sky and India’s Star, citing “multiple people with knowledge of the talks”. Excluded from the transaction are Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and sports network FS1, the people said.

Comcast Corp. (ETB) and Verizon (VZ) remain in the mix, with both companies expressing an interest in buying Fox assets, the FT cited people familiar with the situation as saying.

This is the second time that Fox, founded by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, has talked about selling the majority of its business to Disney. It began preliminary talks a few weeks ago, but the two failed to find common ground on various issues including price.

Read: Comcast, Verizon Approached Twenty-First Century Fox to Buy Some Assets

The discussions–which are happening parallel to another large media deal in AT&T’s and Time Warner‘s merger–underscore the uncertainty that big media companies face as consumers migrate to on-demand, ad-free steaming from traditional television viewing. The Justice Department has sued to block the AT&T, Time Warner transaction, arguing that the resulting lack of competition will harm users. The companies are reportedly preparing a countersuit.

The Wall Street Journal reports industry observers are suggesting major media deal-making will be on hold until that legal battle is decided.

Read: Netflix Is the Reason Behind the Disney, Fox Deal Talks

If Fox and Disney complete their deal, Disney’s already sizeable content library would gain notable additions from Fox assets such as Marvel’s X-Men and James Cameron’s Avatar. These blockbuster franchises, whose upcoming sequels have budgets in the billions, may prove valuable to Disney’s planned standalone streaming service.