NEW YORK: Gladstone Place Partners is advising The Walt Disney Company on its acquisition of numerous 21st Century Fox assets, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Fox is being advised by Sard Verbinnen & Co., according to three people familiar with the deal. The agency and the media company have a long-standing relationship. However, Fox is doing most of the comms work in-house, according to one source.
Steven Goldberg, an MD and co-head of Sard's Los Angeles office, advised on the deal, as well as "employment related litigation matters and its leadership transition," according to his profile on the Sard website.
Representatives from Gladstone, Fox, and Sard declined to comment. Disney reps couldn’t be reached for comment.
Led by Steve Lipin, Gladstone was launched in October with focuses in M&A, crisis, shareholder activist defense, corporate reputation, and other high-stakes specialties.
Gladstone Place Partners drew talent with backgrounds in journalism and from its more established competitors: Sard, Finsbury, Kekst, and Lipin’s former employer, Brunswick Group. Lipin exited his role as Brunswick’s senior U.S. senior partner last year after serving there for almost 16 years.
Lipin has supported many high-profile deals, including InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch, AB InBev’s acquisitions of Grupo Modelo and SAB Miller, Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth, and the merger between Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz, according to The Deal.
In other words, "Either 21st Century Fox will have to pay more for Sky, or Disney will lose a valuable international property to Comcast," The New York Times reports.
Comcast previously tried to acquire Fox, outbidding Disney by around 15%, the paper reported. The entry of a rival suitor could force Disney to raise its offer, according to The New York Times.
Comcast didn’t respond to requests for comment as of press time.
If Disney successfully completes this transaction, it will gain Fox’s movie studios, regional sports networks, Nat Geo, FX, Hulu, and other valuable media properties.
The amalgamation of all that content would strengthen Disney’s play for a streaming service, allowing properties ranging from Pixar to The Simpsons to be hosted on one platform. The currently unnamed service is scheduled for a 2019 launch, by which time Disney will begin pulling its movies off of Netflix, according to CNBC.
As a result of this deal, chairman and CEO Bob Iger will stay on through the end of 2021.