Disney Screws NewsCorp for Keener Fox Family Deal

24 October 2001

Among the myriad achievements of Walt Disney chairman Michael Eisner, arguably the most impressive is his latest feat: screwing a lower price from Rupert Murdoch after shaking hands on a deal.

According to those in the know, Disney will today (Wednesday) announce the acquisition of Fox Family Channel from NewsCorp and Fox co-owner Saban Entertainment for around $100 million less than the price originally agreed.

Eisner served notice last week that Disney expected a renegotiation of the $5.3 billion deal, first sealed in July. Since when the US economic decline and its knock-on effect on the advertising market gave Eisner his cue to tighten the screw.

In effect, the $100m reduction is peanuts – less than two percent – petty cash to Murdoch and his partner Haim Saban in return for a quick sale and the avoidance of possible protracted legal proceedings. Murdoch, in particular, needs to bolster his liquidity fast should NewsCorp’s bid for DirecTV succeed.

Eisner, never averse to trimming a buck or two from others, on Tuesday invited staff at Disney World to volunteer for a 20% cut in hours and salary. It is not known whether he plans to set a similar example of self-sacrifice.

News source: Financial Times