Disney Receives Bids for Fox Sports Regional Networks from MLB and Others

The Walt Disney Company is still looking for a buyer to purchase the regional sports networks they must sell in order to finalize their deal for acquiring 21st Century Fox assets. Bloomberg is reporting that a few companies have placed bids to purchase the networks.

What’s happening:

  • A recent report on Bloomberg says the Walt Disney Company might soon have a buyer for the regional sports networks belonging to Fox.
  • Back in June of 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice determined that Disney could acquire 21st Century Fox assets, but that they had to unload the 22 regional sports networks.
  • According to people familiar with the sale process, companies that have expressed interest include:
    • Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
    • Apollo Global Management
    • Major League Baseball
  • Bloomberg says: “The nonbinding offers — tendered ahead of a deadline on Thursday — would value the networks at roughly six to eight times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.”
  • Initial estimates put bids $22 billion, but new analysis suggests bids would be roughly half as much.
  • Major League Baseball is still looking for a partner that could bolster its bid, according to two sources. The organization declined to comment.
  • As part of a separate potential deal, the New York Yankees are discussing buying back the 80 percent of their sports network —YES Network—that they don’t already own.
  • Disney and Fox didn’t have an immediate comment on the process.
  • Should the Yankees’ deal happen, that would remove the most valuable piece of the regional sports collection.
  • Initially, the sale of the YES Network was thought to make things easier for Disney, as they would have fewer networks to sell.
  • However, interest in the networks is less enthusiastic than originally anticipated.
  • Disney is expected to complete the Fox acquisition early this year.
  • Finally, according to Bloomberg, while “Disney’s bankers have suggested spinning off the networks to shareholders, the company is committed to selling them, the people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. A spinoff would require approval from the Justice Department, but the agency is likely to give the green light.”