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John Malone says Disney-Fox deal makes sense and benefits both sides

  • A Disney deal with 21st Century Fox is "a logical thing for them to be studying," Liberty Media Chairman John Malone says in an exclusive interview with CNBC's David Faber at the Liberty Media annual investor meeting.
  • "My guess is that Fox shareholders would end up being Disney shareholders in some tax efficient structure," Malone said.
  • On the side of Bob Iger's Disney, Malone said the company would get global reach and be able to accelerate its plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming product.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone thinks a Walt Disney purchase of some 21st Century Fox assets makes sense and would benefit both sides.

"To me, it's a logical thing for them to be studying," Malone said in an exclusive interview with CNBC's David Faber Thursday at the Liberty Media annual investor meeting.

"Of all the guys in the studio business, Disney is the most unique in the sense that it owns its IP on its most important entertainment product," Malone said. "So if you think that whole structure is going to be under stress, why wouldn't the Murdochs want to put their stuff in and ride along in something that they'd help make bigger scale and that has this protective element of intellectual property ownership?"

"My guess is that Fox shareholders would end up being Disney shareholders in some tax efficient structure," Malone said.

John Malone, Liberty Media
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
John Malone, Liberty Media

On the side of Bob Iger's Disney, Malone said the company would get global reach and be able to accelerate its plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming product.

"If I was Bob I would be looking at [buying 21st Century Fox] because the crown jewel for the moment at the U.S. would be Hulu. If he can get approved control of Hulu, it gives him a jumpstart on a direct consumer entertainment product," Malone said.

Disney and 21st Century Fox are already investors in Hulu, an on-demand subscription video platform primarily for television shows.

Disney said in August it plans to remove all its movies from Netflix and launch a branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019.

A deal with Fox would also give Disney access to the European market through Fox's Sky brand, and the Asian market through Star, Malone pointed out.

21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Disney, leaving only an entity focused on news and sports, CNBC reported last week, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Malone is widely respected as one of the most astute deal makers in the media and cable industries. He built and ran his cable empire TCI from the 1970s and sold it to AT&T in 1999 for roughly $50 billion. The investor has a net worth of nearly $8 billion, according to Forbes.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Hulu.