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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Disney reopens talks about buying 21st Century Fox

Wall Street Journal reports that discussions have restarted between the entertainment giant and the Murdoch family-led empire

A monitor displays Walt Disney Co. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Most U.S. stocks advanced as investor focus returned to the American economy and tax legislation at the beginning of a week packed with potential market catalysts. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
A monitor displays Walt Disney Co. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Most U.S. stocks advanced as investor focus returned to the American economy and tax legislation at the beginning of a week packed with potential market catalysts. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The US media and entertainment giant Disney has renewed discussions for the purchase of some of rival 21st Century Fox's assets, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Talks between the two began several weeks ago but fizzled due to disagreements over price, according to the newspaper; Fox and WSJ parent News Corp share common ownership in the family-led empire created by mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Other companies such as Comcast, Verizon and Japan's Sony have also expressed varying levels of interest, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are focused on the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio, some international assets like Fox’s 39 percent stake in British satellite TV operator Sky, India’s Star TV, and some US cable networks – but not Fox News – which have long been seen as a jewel in the Murdoch family crown.

Disney is interested in solidifying its Hollywood and television positions and getting the Fox library of content to bolster its arsenal against Netflix and other rivals.

Disney, which owns the ABC television network, ESPN and has major studios in Hollywood, is set to launch its own streaming services aimed at competing against Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

The news comes as another major media deal, between AT&T and Time Warner, has been challenged in an antitrust filing by the US Justice Department.

The rise of streaming services and the so-called cord-cutting movement against cable television, together with declining advertising revenue, have contributed to a rapidly changing landscape for media companies.

After the first reports of talks between the two companies, many media commentators were puzzled as to what Mr Murdoch and his family had to gain from engaging in a sale of Fox. The company bid earlier this year to buy the remaining 61% stake in Sky that it currently doesn’t hold, making an £11.7bn offer.

That bid has been referred to the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK for further investigation after widespread complaints about the influence of the Murdoch family and whether they would look to control or influence editorial decisions at Sky News.

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