Murdochs Divvy Up Disney Payday, Limiting Influence

(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s $71 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox Inc. assets was expected to turn the Murdoch family into one of the biggest voices at the entertainment giant.

But the six Murdoch children -- heirs to billionaire Fox founder Rupert Murdoch -- will be paid cash and stock from the deal individually, according to people familiar with the situation. That means they may not be much of a force at Disney, even though the family as a whole will become one of the biggest investors.

The Murdoch Family Trust holds a voting stake of 39 percent in Fox, which agreed last year to the Disney takeover.

Disney and Fox expect to complete their merger as soon as early March, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. But the companies still have a few regulatory hurdles.

They’re hopeful an agreement can be reached with antitrust regulators in Brazil -- a key holdup for the transaction -- in a meeting set for Feb. 27, the people said. Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger flew to the country this month to help broker a deal with officials. Still, it’s possible that the talks could slip another month if there’s no resolution next week. Mexico is expected to give its approval around the same time.

New Fox

Gaining clearance for the deal would kick off a roughly one-week process to create Fox Corp., a spinoff from Disney that will own Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports. Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest son of Rupert, will be chairman and CEO of that new business.

The Murdoch Family Trust had the potential to remain a key presence at Disney. Analysts had speculated that the Murdochs would influence the direction of the entertainment company and help pick the successor to Iger.

Instead, none of the Murdochs is likely to hold enough Disney stock to have any material sway. The family also didn’t ask for a representative on the Disney board, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Murdochs stand to receive nearly $12 billion in cash and stock from Disney.

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