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News Corp board to approve business split, says source

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Rupert Murdoch in front of a News Corporation logo

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News Corporation's board has approved in principle a plan to split the $60bn media business into separate operations for entertainment and publishing, a source has claimed.

The Rupert Murdoch-led media giant confirmed earlier in the week that it was "considering a restructuring to separate its business into two distinct publicly traded companies".

News Corp supplied no further details on the plan, but media reports suggest that it would involve News Corp's film and television business, including the Twentieth Century Fox film studio, the Fox broadcast network and the stake in UK pay-TV giant Sky, being separated from its newspapers and the HarperCollins book publishing assets.

Reuters reports a "person familiar with the situation" as saying that News Corp's board is ready to approve the split.

The source said that News Corp could make a statement on the move later today (June 28), announcing the creation of two publicly-traded companies.

The move would enable News Corp to insulate its entertainment assets from the newspaper business, particularly with ongoing scrutiny over the phone hacking affair at the UK publisher News International.

It would also placate uneasy investors, who have long called for the business to prioritise the TV and film operations, which generated $23.5 billion (£15bn) in revenue in the year ending June 2011, compared to $8.8 billion for the publishing businesses.

Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corp, has previously opposed such a move, but is thought to have recently softened this stance.

Reuters' source says that the News Corp board still needs to agree details on the management structure, and that process is likely to take the best part of a year, particularly due to the expected regulatory and tax issues.

According to the news agency, News Corp has already hired investment banks JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Centerview to advise on a process.

Another pressing issue is how Murdoch will allocate his senior executives across the new businesses, including his three adult children associated with News Corp.

News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey is likely to be named chief executive of the entertainment business, with Elisabeth Murdoch and James Murdoch expected to report to him.

Reuters feels that Joel Klein, the former New York City chancellor for education, could be lined up to run the publishing arm, after he joined the firm last year to run its education business.

But Murdoch's eldest son, Lachlan, could also be a candidate after he previously acted as publisher for the New York Post.

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