Disney/Fox Begins to Take Shape: Peter Rice, Dana Walden Expected to Lead Newly Merged TV Group

Ben Sherwood would transition to another very senior position under Bob Iger

Peter Rice / Dana Walden / Ben Sherwood
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Disney is preparing to welcome Fox — and some of its top executives — with open arms.

21st Century Fox president Peter Rice and Fox Television Group chairman Dana Walden are expected to move to leadership roles at Disney/ABC Television Group, amid Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, an individual with knowledge of internal talks tells TheWrap. While Rice is an almost certain get, Walden is still a maybe.

Meanwhile, current DATG boss Ben Sherwood is expected to transition to a different, very senior position at the company under Disney CEO Bob Iger, although the specifics of that role are still unclear.

However, TheWrap has learned news of the leadership shakeup is largely speculative and based on rumors at this point.

On Thursday, rival bidder Comcast bowed out of the 21st Century Fox sweepstakes, choosing instead to focus on acquiring British pay-TV giant Sky Plc. Disney and Fox had initially agreed to a $54.2 billion deal in December before Comcast came in with an “unsolicited” offer of $65 billion in June. Disney then sweetened its prior bid to $71.3 billion, which Fox again accepted over Comcast.

Fox has set a July 27 shareholder meeting to vote on the Disney deal. If either Comcast’s or Fox’s acquisition of Sky is not completed by then, Disney would be forced to make a minimum bid of £14 a share for the 61 percent of Sky that Fox doesn’t own. That would be less than the £14.75 per share that Comcast offered last week.

Walden runs both the Fox broadcast network and its television studio together as co-chairmen and CEO with Gary Newman. While that latter portion of 21st Century Fox will end up as part of the Walt Disney Company; the former asset is staying put to become a key part of what they’re calling “New Fox.”

Back in January, Walden and Newman admitted they were unsure of where they’ll end up working if the Disney-Fox merger went through.

“The truth is, we don’t really know,” Newman told reporters during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “Certainly for the next 12-18 months we’re very committed to Fox.”

Walden echoed his notion of (temporary) allegiance, adding, “Clearly, we’ll have decisions to make over time.”

“We really don’t have a timeline for our decision,” Newman added when we asked for clarification.

Disney and Fox could not be reached for comment by TheWrap for this story.