Fox CEO Murdoch Sees FanDuel Litigation Ending Soon
Fox Corp. (NASDAQ:FOXA) CEO Lachlan Murdoch expects the company’s legal spat with Flutter Entertainment (OTC:PDYPY) will be settled in the coming months, potentially boosting the media giant’s ability to capitalize on the growing US sports wagering market.
Murdoch made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with Axios. Currently, Fox is the only major broadcaster with its own betting brand — FOX Bet. However, that unit is controlled by Flutter and is overshadowed by that company’s 95% stake in FanDuel.
With 6.5 million users, FOX Bet is live in Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To be sure, those states are either significant or fast-growing players on the domestic sports wagering stage, but Murdoch tells Axios the overall FOX Bet rollout is “disappointing.”
While FOX Bet holds a small share of the overall regulated US sports betting market, the brand carries some gravitas due to its ties to a massive media entity, which is one of the broadcasters of NFL games. Along with BetMGM, Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and WynnBet, FOX Bet is an NFL-approved sportsbook operator.
Finally, FanDuel Resolution…Maybe
Fox’s legal rift with Flutter escalated in April 2021 when the media giant sued the Irish gaming company in New York’s Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS). JAMS isn’t a traditional court of law, but its decisions are binding and gives parties a more efficient avenue for settling disputes.
The litigation centers around Fox’s rights to acquire an 18.6% stake in FanDuel — something Flutter said it intends to oblige — and the price to be paid for that investment. Fox contends it should pay a price equivalent to the $4.175 billion Flutter paid in December 2020 when it bought out Fastball’s 37.2 percent interest in FanDuel.
On that basis, the media company would pay roughly half of $4.175 billion, but Flutter doesn’t see things that way. The gaming operator says that while it will honor Fox’s rights to acquire 18.6% of FanDuel, the broadcaster should pay the market price, which is likely significantly higher than approximately $2.2 billion.
Murdoch told Axios the matter “”should be resolved by the summer” though he offered no further details.
Flutter Could Be Compelled to Settle
It remains to be seen what form a settlement between Fox and Flutter will take, but late last year, speculation surfaced the two parties were nowhere close to an agreement with some sources the price gap on the FanDuel stake was as wide as $10 billion.
Flutter could be compelled to come to terms with Fox because the arbitration is now more than a year old, it’s likely costly and is widely viewed as the primary stumbling block in the gaming company’s plans to spin-off FanDuel to public investors.
It’s easy to understand why investors want that to happen. FanDuel commands the largest share of the regulated US sports wagering market and its separation from Flutter is viewed as a potential unlocking of shareholder value. Fox is one of those shareholders as it owns 2.5% of Flutter.
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