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Disney buys 21st Century Fox in $52.4 billion deal

Acquisition includes popular IP like X-Men, Deadpool, Avatar and The Simpsons

The Walt Disney Company has significantly expanded its IP portfolio with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, in an all stock deal worth $52.4 billion.

Disney has also assumed $13.7 billion in net debt, which pushes the total value up to $66.1 billion. Prior to the acquisition completing, 21st Century Fox will spin off the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network.

The focus of the deal is the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with its cable and international TV businesses. This includes FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox's interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

However, the real prize for Disney will be the stable of IP under Fox's ownership, such as X-Men and Deadpool (both of which will be reunited with their Marvel stablemates), Avatar, The Simpsons, and a great many more.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Disney CEO Robert Iger described the, "extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings."

The acquisition of Fox further reinforces Disney's position as the key IP holder in global entertainment, a subject that Rob Fahey explored in a recent editorial. "Disney has absorbed first Pixar, then Marvel, then Lucasfilm, placing itself beyond any reasonable challenge," Fahey wrote. "It is the world's most valuable IP holder, and will be for years to come."

The thrust of Fahey's argument was the influence Disney still has over the games business, despite having wound up its first-party development and publishing operations when it canned the Disney Infinity franchise in May 2016. The company now licenses its properties to game companies, as it has with EA on Star Wars and Square Enix for Marvel.

Following its acquisition of Fox, there is even more scope for game companies to work with Disney IP.

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