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Disney gets China's approval for FOX purchase

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Posted at 1:57 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 01:57:02-05

Chinese regulators have given the all-clear for Disney to buy most of 21st Century Fox, a Disney spokesperson confirmed Monday.

The approval marks an important milestone for the deal, which is expected to close in the first part of 2019. The news was first reported by CNBC.

This summer, shareholders from both companies gave the green light for Disney to purchase most of Fox's assets for $71.3 billion. Disney is getting the company's movie studio, which includes franchises like "Avatar" and "X-Men," along with cable channels like FX and National Geographic.

Disney won antitrust approval from US regulators in June, but it had to sell off 22 of Fox's regional sports networks as a condition of that approval. The fate of those networks is still not entirely clear.

Earlier this month, the European Commission also approved the deal. EU regulators required Disney to divest its interest in Europe in channels including History, H2, Crime & Investigation, Blaze and Lifetime.

Disney says China did not attach any conditions to its approval.

Some US-China analysts had speculated that China could slow walk its approval of the Disney-Fox deal to gain leverage in negotiations with the United States over trade. But the mere size of the acquisition, and the fact that it's not in a strategically important sector for China, made the prospect unlikely.

Disney says it still needs approval from a few other regulators. However, OKs from the United States, the European Union and China were all widely considered the most important hurdles for Disney to clear.

Disney (DIS) stock was about flat midday Monday. Shares of Fox (FOXA) spiked about 3%.