The U.S. Department of Justice has entered into a consent decree with Disney and 21st Century Fox that allows the acquisition to proceed, while requiring the sale of the Fox Sports Regional Networks. Under the consent decree, Disney will have at least 90 days from the date of closing the transaction to complete this sale, with the possibility that the U.S. Department of Justice can grant extensions of time up to another 90 days. The decree is subject to the normal court approval process, according to a statement of Disney.
The clearance paves the way for the company to win the bid for 21st Century Fox assets. Last Wednesday, Disney announced that it has signed an amended acquisition agreement to acquire the 21st Century Fox for 71.3 billion dollars in cash and stock, aiming to defeat Comcast in a bidding war and bolster its position in a changing entertainment industry. Disney announced a deal to acquire many parts of 21st Century Fox for 52.4 billion dollars in stock in an earlier offer last December. But Comcast, an American global telecommunications conglomerate, offered a 65-billion dollars all-cash bid this month to compete with Disney.
The transaction includes 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses, which brought popular entertainment properties including X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons, FX Networks and National Geographic to Disney's portfolio. But per the terms of the approval from U.S. Department of Justice, Disney will be required to divest 21st Century Fox's 22 regional sports networks.
"The parties have worked diligently since announcing the acquisition last December to provide the DOJ the information that it needed for its investigation of the transaction. We are pleased that the DOJ concluded that, with the exception of the proposed acquisition of the Fox Sports Regional Networks, the transaction will not harm competition, and that we were able to resolve the limited potential concerns to position us to move forward with this exciting opportunity that will enable us to create even more compelling consumer experiences," said Disney in the statement.
The deal still needs to be approved by a U.S. federal judge. Comcast hasn't responded to the settlement agreement publicly.