Rupert Murdoch considers a new merger of Fox Corp and News Corp

Rupert Murdoch considers a new merger of Fox Corp and News Corp
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Rupert Murdoch finished his divorce from his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, in August. But the two halves of his business empire are exploring a union.

News Corp., which owns such editorial titles as the London-based Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Sun tabloid, and Fox Corp., which encompasses Fox News and Fox Sports, said late Friday they are exploring a possible merger at the behest of Murdoch and his family’s trust.

The two companies said they each formed a special committee to review the proposal.

The Murdoch Family Trust owns about 40 percent of the voting shares in both News Corp and Fox Corp, and any combination would amount to a corporate meeting of sorts.

The two entities shared a governance structure until it splintered in 2013 in response to a major scandal that rocked some of Murdoch’s London newspapers. Revelations that his journalists had been hacking the voicemails of celebrities and other tabloid targets sparked overlapping criminal and civil investigations and government inquiries that found systemic corruption in the British tabloid industry a potential threat to Murdoch’s empire. .

At the time, Murdoch presented the split as a move that would “allow each company and its division to realize its full potential and unlock even greater long-term shareholder value.”

But it was accompanied by a measure of Murdoch family drama. Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, James, stepped down from his position as CEO of his European and Asian businesses, including the London tabloids. He eventually became CEO of the entertainment company 21st Century Fox. But he ended up clashing over business strategy with his older brother, Lachlan, who had been promoted to co-CEO of the company.

Eventually, his father decided to eliminate the company that he had built during his life out of their mutual conflicts.

In 2019, the Murdochs closed a $71.3 billion sale of most of 21st Century Fox, which also included the FX cable network, the Fox Searchlight label and the National Geographic properties, to Disney.

While James Murdoch left his executive duties with the sale, Lachlan chose to stay on and manage the parts of the company that remained under Murdoch’s control, including Fox News, Fox TV stations and Fox Sports. In the summer of 2020, James left the family business entirely, acknowledging “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s media outlets and certain other strategic decisions,” a statement seen as his commentary on the increasingly conservative trend at Fox News.

Lachlan Murdoch told Fox investors in 2019 that the family had no plans to combine the companies, but Rupert Murdoch has raised the possibility of bringing them together in recent weeks, according to people who spoke directly with him and who requested anonymity to discuss talks. private.

The older Murdoch told these people that he believes a merger will give the combined companies greater ability to negotiate and do business with giants like Netflix, Amazon and Disney.

In its announcement, News Corp. said the special committee “has made no determination with respect to such potential combination at this time, and there can be no certainty that the Company will participate in such a transaction.” Both companies said they did not plan to comment further.

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