July 27 (UPI) -- Shareholders have approved Walt Disney's takeover of 21st Century Fox in a $71 billion deal, both companies announced Friday.
Disney's attempt to acquire Fox, with its valuable storehouse of films like Avatar and television shows like The Simpsons, began in December with a $52.4 billion offer of Disney stock. Comcast later entered the bidding war, pushing up the price before dropping out.
"Combining the [Fox] businesses with Disney and establishing new 'Fox' will unlock significant value for our shareholders," Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement identical to one from Disney.
The U.S. Justice Department approved the deal in June, with the stipulation that Disney divest itself of Fox regional sports networks that compete with Disney-owned ESPN.
Required regulatory approvals from China and the European Union, among other areas, remain pending.
Fox is still in the running to acquire the remaining outstanding shares of European pay-television operator Sky, although a $34 billion bid by Comcast remains the leading offer.
Disney seeks Fox's library and majority ownership in Hulu to launch its own streaming service. It will include Disney staples, including the Star Wars and Marvel Entertainment franchises, as well as traditional Disney programming.
The merger could fuel another round of unification in the media platform industry, in which distributors must find an adequate supply of production.
Netflix announced it will spend over $8 billion this year to boost its program inventory to better compete with Disney's new service, scheduled to launch next year.