Disney-Fox Deal Closes January 1, Thousands of Layoffs Expected

The Disney-20th Century Fox merger will be transactionally official on Jan. 1, 2019. 20th Century Fox president Peter Rice shared the news with employees Wednesday, Variety reports. The acquisition itself is expected to complete sometime in the first half of 2019, with the transition of people taking up to a year.

Rice will join Disney as a top TV exec when the deal is complete. 20th Century Fox CFO John Nallen, who will become the COO of New Fox (the company consisting of Fox's assets not acquired by Disney), was also present.

Rice acknowledged at the town hall meeting in Los Angeles the deal will result in employee layoffs. Deadline reports Disney estimates $2.6 billion in post-acquisition cost-cutting. This means at least 2,300 people with Fox and 1,700 from Disney will be affected by the merged company's efforts to reduce redundancies.

Rice and Nallen fielded questions regarding company cultures and shared resources, while noting how they believe Disney's acquisitions of Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm kept each division's distinctive workplace culture largely intact. Rice also reiterated that Disney is the only media conglomerate founded by an artist.

"Disney is the only studio started by an artist," Rice stressed, according to Deadline. "It's fundamentally creative. It's not a cable company, not a phone company, it has creativity at its core," he said.

According to Deadline's report, shared services employees will move to Disney. However, New Fox will "get first crack" at hiring them. If they aren't picked up by New Fox, they will enter a Disney pool. If they are not picked up by Disney, they will be offered a severance package. They will also be offered severance if Disney does not offer comparable compensation or location.

A second town-hall is slated for 3 p.m PDT Wednesday. Other Fox executives present were Television Group's Gary Newman and Dana Walden, as well as FX's John Landgraf.