James Murdoch Reported as Potential Next Disney Boss

By Eirik Solheim [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Reports suggest that the son of Rupert Murdoch could leave the side of his father at 21st Century Fox and become the new chief executive of Disney if ever a $60bn deal between the media giants continue.

Currently chief executive of Fox, James Murdoch has been reported as a possible successor to Bob Iger if Disney is successful in the company’s bid to acquire a collection of Murdoch assets, including its stake in Sky, a British broadcaster.

Fox has also been approached by Verizon and Comcast, its fellow US giants. However, it seems that a deal with Disney is almost complete.

Reportedly, Disney is offering shareholders of Fox $60bn worth of its shares for the assets, which include Fox’s TV channels, film studio, Indian media firm Star and the company’s  stake in Hulu, an online video service.

James Murdoch would be given a senior executive role at Disney, enabling him to oversee the newly purchased businesses and placing him in a strong position to take over when Iger retires in 2019.

Any deal could be delayed by the attempt of Fox to acquire the 61% of Sky that it does not currently own. The company revealed plans to acquire the said stake for £61m last December. However,  the deal has been dismissed by regulatory investigations.

The Competition and Markets Authority is set to have its final say regarding the matter by March. However, today it postponed the publish date of its provisional findings from December to January.

Even if the CMA gives it the go-ahead, the deal could still be stopped by Karen Bradley, Britain’s culture secretary, if she believes that it goes against the public interest.

It is not clear if any Disney deal would be conditional on the bid succeeding bid of Fox’s Sky. However, today, Daniel Farber, a CNBC journalist, stated: “It’s my understanding that Disney would want to own all of Sky.”

That sent shares of Sky up around 2 percent. They have increased some 8 percent since discussions regarding a bidding war first surfaced in November.

Talk regarding a deal develops at a challenging time for film and television companies, who face tough competition from tech giants like Amazon, Netflix, and Google’s Youtube, which are spending billions in content.

If the deal continues, Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan, his other son, would be left with a rump of Fox including the company’s broadcast network that airs Fox Sports and Fox News. They also own News Corporation, the publishing giant, the Sun, parent of The Times, HarperCollins and The Wall Street Journal.

Shares of Sky were up by 1.3 percent to £9.89 in afternoon trade.