Walt Disney Company is today expected to unveil an agreement to purchase children’s TV network Fox Family Worldwide from NewsCorp and media entrepreneur Haim Saban.

The $5.3 billion cash deal will see Disney gain access to 81 million American cable TV subscribers via the Fox Family channel. Also included in the purchase is a 76% holding in Fox Kids Europe, which boasts 25m subscribers in 54 countries, and Fox Kids Latin America.

However, the Fox Kids division, which supplies the Fox Network with children’s programming, is not part of the deal; instead, Saban will sell his stake in the unit to NewsCorp separately.

The sale of Fox Family was triggered when Saban exercised an option forcing NewsCorp to buy out his 49.5% holding in January, with the media group subsequently deciding to sell rather than find a new partner [WAMN: 22-Jan-01; 14-May-01]. Other firms interested in buying the network included AOL Time Warner, which reportedly made an aggressive offer over the weekend, and Viacom.

NewsCorp will gain around $1.6bn in cash from the sale, a much needed injection of funds as it continues attempts to buy satellite TV giant DirecTV.

News source: Financial Times