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Mario Gabelli Comments on Twenty-First Century Fox

- By Holly LaFon

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOXA) (2.5%) (FOX/FOXA - $47.78/$48.12 - NASDAQ) is a diversified media company with operations in cable network television, television broadcasting, and filmed entertainment. We expect FOX to complete the transaction with Disney early in 2019. On November 19, 2018, Disney received approval from Chinese regulators to acquire FOX's assets. Given ongoing trade tensions with the United States, some investors were concerned the deal could be held up for political reasons. With Department of Justice and European approval obtained, Brazil is left as the final jurisdiction remaining to make a decision. Even prior to obtaining Chinese approval, Disney felt confident the deal would close "meaningfully earlier" than the original target of June 2019. New Fox, the collection of assets not sold to Disney, will consist of: 1) Fox News, the most watched cable news channel in the U.S.; 2) The Fox Broadcast Network, one of the Big Four broadcast networks with substantial portfolio of sports rights, including the NFL and MLB; 3) FS1, the national sports network launched in 2013 to compete with ESPN; and 4) other cable networks such as the Big Ten Network. The company will be highly reliant on news and sports programming, which is watched live and not subject to the kind of ratings pressure seen in general entertainment networks. Given the "must carry" nature of both the Fox Broadcast Network and Fox News, we expect the company will be able to grow affiliate fees from distributors substantially faster than its peers.

From Mario Gabelli (Trades, Portfolio)'s Value 25 Fund fourth-quarter 2018 shareholder letter.
This article first appeared on GuruFocus.