Disney And Fox Merger Estimated To Result In 5,000 Layoffs
Now that the Walt Disney Company does not have to worry about competition in its pursuit of 21st Century Fox, the look of the combined companies is taking shape, and that means pink slips are expected. Approximately 2,000 people, including employees of both companies, are expected to be laid off.
Sources told Deadline that there could be around 2,300 people laid off on the Fox side, and 1,700 employees at Disney.
Next, Disney will decide which executives stay, as the two companies consolidate their units. In March, Disney gave Kevin Maye and Bob Chapek more responsibilities, with Maye leading distribution and Chapek leading experiences.
Peter Rice, who serves as 21st Century Fox president and Fox Networks Groups CEO, will oversee the TV content operation. Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden and FX Networks CEO John Landgraf are both expected to stay during the transition. One possible move for Walden in the combined company could be working at Hulu, since Disney will now have a majority stake in the streaming service after buying Fox. Disney-ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood is also expected to take a bigger senior role.
One executive expected to leave the combined Disney/Fox is Gary Newman, the Fox TV Group President. There is speculation he might lead New Fox, the soon-to-be independent broadcast network.
Earlier this week, Comcast officially dropped out of the running for Fox after it chose not to outbid Disney's $71.3 billion bid. Instead, Comcast chose to focus on acquiring European pay-TV giant Sky, bidding $34 billion. 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent minority stake in Sky, and Fox was trying to buy the remaining 61 percent.
"Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky," Comcast said Monday.
In late June, the Department of Justice approved Disney's bid to acquire 21st Century Fox, which includes the movie and TV entertainment assets under the 20th Century Fox banner. The DOJ said Disney would have to drop the Fox Sports regional networks, since Disney owns ESPN.
Once the Disney deal goes through, the deal could be a boon for comic book fans dreaming of a united Marvel Cinematic Universe that would include the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. A June rumor suggested X-Men: Dark Phoenix would be the last movie in Fox's X-Men saga before the characters are rebooted within the MCU.
Disney would also own James Cameron's Avatar, which it already licensed for theme park attractions at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. The deal would also give Disney complete ownership of the original Star Wars films.