Rupert Murdoch wants to rebuild his empire. Almost a decade after separating the newspaper and audiovisual publishing business, the media tycoon plans to merge News Corporation and Fox Corporation, as reported to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC, for its acronym in English).
“On October 14, 2022, News Corporation has announced that the company’s board of directors, following the receipt of letters from K. Rupert Murdoch and the Murdoch Family Trust, has formed a special committee composed of independent and disinterested members of the board. to start exploring a possible merger with Fox Corporation,” News Corporation tells the US watchdog based in Washington.
The special committee will hire independent financial and legal advisers to thoroughly evaluate the possible operation. “The committee has made no decision regarding such potential merger at this time, and there can be no certainty that the company will participate in such a transaction. Neither the company nor the special committee intends to comment on or disclose other developments related to the work of the committee, unless and until it considers it appropriate or necessary to disclose more, “he adds in a brief note in which he does not give account of who are members of that committee. Among the independent directors of News Corp is the former president of the Spanish Government José María Aznar.
Fox has issued a statement with identical content after also receiving letters from Murdoch and the family company in the same sense. The news has been advanced as exclusive by The Wall Street Journal, precisely owned by News Corp. The newspaper assures that the operation is likely to be considered as an exchange of shares.
The powerful Rupert Murdoch, 91, is the chief executive of News Corp and not a Fox executive. His son Lachlan Murdoch, 51, is both co-chairman of News and chief executive of Fox. He is seen as his likely successor. The Murdoch family trust controls approximately 39% of News Corp, a company valued at just over 9,100 million dollars (about 9,400 million dollars) and 42% of Fox, which has a market capitalization of about 16,800 million dollars. . In the event of a share swap, the Murdoch family would continue to control around 40% of the capital of the merged company.
Newspapers and television
News Corp’s main assets are the Dow Jones company (publisher of The Wall Street Journal, acquired in 2007), News UK (publisher of The Sun and The Times), News Corp Australia, REA Group (operator of realestate.com.au ), Realtor.com, and the book publisher HarperCollins. Fox has television channels and the Tubi online service. Its star asset is the conservative-leaning Fox News channel aligned with former President Donald Trump, which generates most of the company’s revenue.
In 2013, still in the midst of the wiretapping scandal of the weekly News of the World, the group decided to separate, on the one hand, the newspaper publishing business, grouped into News Corp, the original name of the empire created from its first newspaper in Australia, and, on the other, entertainment and television in what was then called 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch subsequently sold the bulk of his entertainment assets to Disney, including the Twentieth Century Fox studio and the Indian audiovisual business Star India, in a deal closed in 2019 and valued at $71.3 billion. Following the sale of those assets, the surviving television-focused company rebranded itself as Fox.
After that sale, the Murdochs denied that they were considering the operation that they are now proposing. News and Corp are two relatively small companies compared to technology giants like Apple, Amazon or Netflix that have bet on content and have become competitors. The Internet has established new rules in the world of communication and scale has become an essential factor. The union will also allow the search for synergies between the audiovisual media and newspapers.