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Disney seals US antitrust approval for Fox deal

Walt Disney has secured US antitrust approval to acquire most of rival media company 21st Century Fox’s assets on the condition that it offloads 22 regional sports channels, according to the Justice Department.

The deal must still overcome a number of other regulatory hurdles, as well as a rival offer for Fox’s assets from Comcast.

The two parties reached an agreement in December, but Disney tabled an improved $70.4bn (€61bn) offer last week in a bid to stave off Comcast’s $65bn bid earlier this month.

In a regulatory filing last week, Disney said that it is willing to offload Fox assets that generated up to $1bn in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in order to push through the deal.

Fox and Disney have already submitted filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, with the former having scheduled a vote on the merger proposal for July 10. The deal agreed by Disney was set to lead ultimately to the company securing control of Sky, a major sports broadcaster in Europe, and media company Star India, as well as the 22 regional sports channels, among other assets.

Most industry observers expect Comcast to return with an improved offer.