SOURCES: Disney in talks to buy Fox Family Worldwide for $3.3 billion

Saturday, July 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Walt Disney Co. is in talks to buy Fox Family Worldwide Inc. for $3.3 billion, plus the assumption of $2 billion in debt, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The negotiations were expected to continue through the weekend and the deal could still fall apart, the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned.

News Corp. and Saban Entertainment Inc. each own 49.5 percent of Fox Family, which operates the Fox Family Channel, a thriving cable network that reaches some 79 million homes in the United States. Media investment bank Allen & Co. owns 1 percent.

Disney, News Corp. and Saban declined to comment late Friday.

Last December, Saban exercised an option to force News Corp. to buy its stake in the company. News Corp. and Saban agreed to jointly sell the business after the two sides could not agree on a value for Saban's half.

In addition to Fox Family Channel, the company also includes the Fox Kids Network and a 76 percent interest in Fox Kids Europe. It also has a major library of children's programming with some 6,200 half-hour shows.

Disney is a worldwide media and entertainment company, operating theme parks, a movie studio, and Internet sites. Its ABC Television unit includes the ABC network, local television stations and several cable channels, including the Disney Channel and ESPN.

The deal comes as News Corp., is close to completing talks with General Motors Corp. to acquire it's Hughes Electronics subsidiary, which operates the satellite television service DirecTV.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report Disney's talks to acquire Fox Family on its Web site Friday.