HomeBusinessRupert Murdoch Considers Merging Two Halves of His Business Empire

Rupert Murdoch Considers Merging Two Halves of His Business Empire

Rupert Murdoch finalized 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 publishing titles including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the London-based Sun tabloid, and Fox Corp., which includes Fox News and Fox Sports, said Friday night they were investigating a possible merger at the Murdoch’s order and the trust of his family.

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

The Murdoch Family Trust owns about 40 percent of the voting stakes in both News Corp and Fox Corp — and any combination would amount to some sort of corporate reunion.

The two entities shared a governing structure until a split that came about in 2013 in response to a major scandal that rocked some of Murdoch’s London newspapers. Revelations that their journalists had hacked into celebrity voicemails and other tabloid targets sparked overlapping criminal and civil and government investigations that revealed systemic corruption in Britain’s gossip industry – a potential threat to Murdoch’s empire.

At the time, Murdoch called the split a move that “would allow any company and its division to recognize their full potential — and unlock even greater long-term shareholder value.”

But it was accompanied by a certain amount of Murdoch family drama. Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, James, left his role as CEO of their European and Asian companies, including the London tabloids. He eventually became CEO of the entertainment company 21st Century Fox. But he clashed over corporate strategy with his older brother, Lachlan, who had been elevated to executive co-chairmanship of the company.

In the end, their father decided to remove the company he had built all his life from their infighting.

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

While James Murdoch left his executive positions with sales, Lachlan chose to stay and run the parts of the company that remained under Murdoch control, including Fox News, Fox TV stations and Fox Sports. In the summer of 2020, James left the family business altogether, acknowledging “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news media and certain other strategic decisions” — a statement considered his commentary on Fox News’ increasingly conservative propensity. .

Lachlan Murdoch told Fox investors in 2019 that the family had no plans to merge the companies, but Rupert Murdoch has been mulling the possibility of reuniting them in recent weeks, according to people who spoke to him directly and who requested anonymity over private conversations. to discuss.

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

In its announcement, News Corp. that the special committee “has not made any decision at this time with respect to any such potential combination, and there can be no assurance that the company will enter into such transaction.” Both companies said they do not plan to comment further.

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