21st Century Fox
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (stylized as 21st Century Fox, simply known as Fox, and also called 21CF) is an American multinational mass media corporation based in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was one of two companies formed from the 2013 spin-off of the publishing assets of News Corporation, as founded by Rupert Murdoch in 1979.
21st Century Fox is the legal successor to News Corporation dealing primarily in the film and television industries. It is currently the United States' third-largest media conglomerate after The Walt Disney Company and Comcast. The other company, the "new" News Corporation, holds Murdoch's print interests and other media assets in Australia (both owned by him and his family via a family trust with 39 percent controlling interest in each).
The company's assets include the Fox Entertainment Group—owners of the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox television network, and Fox News Channel, among other assets. It also has significant foreign operations, including the pan-Asian pay channel operator Star TV, as well as an approximately 39% stake in Sky plc—a European operator of satellite television providers and pay channels in the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Italy.
21st Century Fox was formed by the splitting of entertainment and media properties from News Corporation. In February 2012, Natalie Ravitz accepted a position to become Rupert Murdoch’s Chief of Staff at News Corporation. News Corporation's board approved the split on May 24, 2013, while shareholders approved the split on June 11, 2013; the company completed the split on June 28 and formally started trading on the NASDAQ on July 1. Plans for the split were originally announced on June 28, 2012, while additional details, and the working name of the new company were unveiled on December 3, 2012.
Murdoch stated that performing this split would "unlock the true value of both companies and their distinct assets, enabling investors to benefit from the separate strategic opportunities resulting from more focused management of each division." The move also came in the wake of a series of scandals that had damaged the reputation of the company's publishing operations in the United Kingdom. The split was structured so that the old News Corporation would change its name to 21st Century Fox and spin off its publishing assets into a "new" News Corporation.
While the company was originally announced as the Fox Group, on April 16, 2013, Murdoch announced the new name as a way to suggest the retaining of 20th Century Fox's heritage as the group advances into the future. Its logo was officially unveiled on May 9, 2013, featuring a modernized version of the iconic Fox searchlights. However, the 21st Century Fox brand does not extend to the existing 20th Century Fox division (which remains under its original name).
On January 8, 2014, Rupert Murdoch announced plans to delist 21st Century Fox's shares from the Australian Securities Exchange, in favor of solely trading on the NASDAQ. Its listing in Australia was a holdover from its period as News Corporation, and 21st Century Fox has relatively little presence in Australia, unlike News Corp. Murdoch stated that the changes, which were expected to be complete by June 2014, would "simplify the capital and operating structure" of 21st Century Fox and provide "improved liquidity" to shareholders. Also that month, the company acquired a majority ownership in YES Network.
In June 2014, 21st Century Fox made a bid to acquire Time Warner, which had similarly spun off its publishing assets, for $80 billion in a cash and stock deal. The deal, which was rejected by Time Warner's board of directors in July 2014, would have also involved the sale of CNN to ease antitrust issues. On August 5, 2014, 21st Century Fox announced it had withdrawn its bid for Time Warner. The company's stock had fallen sharply since the bid was announced, prompting directors to announce 21st Century Fox would buy back $6 billion of its shares over the following 12 months.
On July 25, 2014, 21st Century Fox announced the sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to BSkyB for $9 billion, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. Fox would use the money from the sale, along with $25 billion it received from Goldman Sachs, to attempt another bid for Time Warner.
In December 2014, Fox-owned television studio Shine Group merged with the Dutch studio Endemol and Core Media Group to form Endemol Shine Group, which is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management.
On September 9, 2015, 21st Century Fox announced a for-profit joint venture with the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Partners, which took ownership of all of National Geographic media and consumer businesses, including National Geographic magazine, and the National Geographic-branded television channels that were already run as a joint venture with Fox. 21st Century Fox holds a 73% stake in the company.
On December 15, 2016, 21st Century Fox reached an agreement to take over the 61% of Sky that it did not already own. The company was valued at £18.5 billion. The deal was approved by the European Commission on April 7, 2017, followed by Ireland's Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment on June 27. However, the deal has become subject to scrutiny and an extended regulatory review in the United Kingdom over concerns surrounding the plurality of British media that will be owned by the Murdoch family post-merger (counting News Corp's newspapers and recent acquisition of radio station operator Wireless Group), and violations of British news broadcasting regulations connected to Sky's former carriage of Fox News Channel in the country.
On April 30, 2017, it was reported that 21st Century Fox was in talks to purchase Tribune Media in a joint venture with the Blackstone Group. On May 7, 2017, it was reported that Sinclair Broadcast Group was nearing a deal to purchase Tribune Media, and that 21st Century Fox had dropped its bid for the company. The deal was officially announced the next day. On August 2, 2017, it was reported that 21st Century Fox was in talks to form a similar joint venture with Ion Media in an effort to counter Sinclair and displace Fox affiliations from their stations; analysts felt that the proposed partnership was meant as a bargaining ploy against Sinclair, a sit would have to make significant investments into the acquired stations to make them profitable and capable of producing local news programming (Ion stations have historically had few employees or local infrastructure), and that Fox risked losing viewers through these transitions.
On November 6, 2017, it was reported by CNBC that The Walt Disney Company negotiated with Fox to acquire 21st Century Fox's filmed entertainment, cable entertainment, and direct broadcast satellite divisions (including 20th Century Fox, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, and Fox's international divisions, but excluding divisions such as the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, and Fox Sports). Talks had stalled for the day without a deal being finalized, but CNBC reported on November 10 that the prospected deal has yet to be fully abandoned.
On November 8, 2017, the Kingdom Holding Company, owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, had recently sold its minority stake in 21st Century Fox. It previously held a 6% stake, making Al-Waleed the company's largest single shareholder behind the Murdoch family; Al-Waleed had also publicly supported Murdoch during the News of the World scandal. Kingdom had reduced its stake to around 5% in 2015, and had sold the remainder during the fiscal quarter ending September 2017. The valuation of the shares, or who they were sold to, is unknown. Earlier in the week, Al-Waleed was arrested in an anti-corruption probe by the Saudi government.
On November 16, 2017, it is reported that Comcast, Verizon Communications, and Sony had also joined Disney in a bidding war for 21st Century Fox's key assets. During a recent shareholders meeting, Lachlan Murdoch stated that 21st Century Fox was not a "sub-scale" company "finding it difficult to leverage their positions in new and emerging video platforms", but had "the required scale to continue to both execute on our aggressive growth strategy and deliver significant increased returns to shareholders".
21st Century Fox's operations can be broadly categorized into four major reporting segments:
- Cable Network Programming
- Filmed Entertainment
- Direct-Broadcast Satellite Television.
Among the divisions of the company is Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products which "licenses and markets properties worldwide" on behalf of a number of 21st Century Fox assets and third-parties.
On its formation in 2013, Murdoch was chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company, while Chase Carey took the posts of president and chief operating officer. Co-chairman and Co-CEO positions were created in 2014 and filled by Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, respectively, both sons of Rupert Murdoch.
On July 1, 2015, Lachlan Murdoch was elevated to Co-Executive Chairman alongside his father and James Murdoch replaced his father as CEO. Former COO Chase Carey became Executive Vice Chairman.
21st Century Fox primarily consists of the media and broadcasting properties that were owned by its predecessor, such as the Fox Entertainment Group, STAR TV, and their 39.14% stake in Sky plc. News Corporation's broadcasting properties in Australia, such as Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia, remain a part of the newly renamed News Corp Australia—which was spun off with the new News Corp and is not a part of 21st Century Fox.
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