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“New Fox” prepares buy-back of US regional sports networks

“New Fox” has emerged as the front-runner to buy back the regional US sports networks it will sell to Disney, a move that would protect its position as a leading sports broadcaster in the country.

No formal offers have been made for the 22 regional networks, which show live games from 44 professional sports teams in the US. However, US media outlet CNBC reported that Fox is “the most serious buyer”.

Selling to “New Fox” would likely provide Disney with a cleaner, quicker sale. Should Disney’s deal to acquire Fox assets take longer than expected to finalise, selling the RSNs back to “New Fox” would lead to a faster sale and could even result in the networks remaining with Fox and being excluded from the wider deal.

The RSNs have been valued at over $20bn, however “New Fox” could drive this price down significantly should a quick sale become a priority for Disney.

Disney sent out a bid book to potential buyers two-and-a-half weeks ago. Private equity groups The Blackstone Group and BlackRock are reportedly interested, along with US telco AT&T.