Today brings us a valuable lesson in how to read carefully. Variety reports that Peter Rice, the current 21st Century Fox president who will be a television executive at Disney, told Fox employees at a town hall meeting that Fox will be “logistically ready” to close the Disney-Fox deal on January 1, 2019.
This has people saying and, even worse, reporting that the Disney-Fox deal will close on January 1, 2019. That is not at all what Rice said. As Variety points out in the same article, Rice also reiterated that the deal is on track to close in the first half of 2019. Fox’s readiness for the transition has nothing to do with the regulatory matters that are still pending.
Disney and Fox are still seeking approval from several international bodies including the European Union (which could come by October 19) and China. All regulatory approvals need to be in place before the deal can close, so those approvals are going to dictate when Disney and Fox can employ their logistical readiness.
Prior to July’s shareholder vote, Disney and Fox told investors that the companies expected their deal to be ready to close within six to twelve months from June 20, 2018. That means the deal may very well begin to close on January 1, but it’s not a guarantee and neither is what Rice said.
The main takeaway here, other than the value of reading carefully, is that Fox (and probably Disney) aren’t sitting on their hands while they wait for the remaining regulatory matters to be resolved. They are getting ready so that when those approvals are in, they can start the transition immediately.