News Column

Murdoch to tighten grip on Fox empire

August 7, 2014

By Peter Campbell, Daily Mail, London

Aug. 07--After the collapse of its proposed pounds sterling 49bnTime Warner merger, 21st Century Fox is to begin a buyback of its own shares.

The pounds sterling 3.6bn share purchase will increase the Murdoch family trust's stake in the company from its current 38pc. The number of overall shares in circulation will fall, tightening the Murdoch grip.

The media group said that Time 'refused to engage' despite several approaches.

The setback came amid reports that another US mega-deal the pounds sterling 19bn takeover of T-Mobile in the US by Sprint had collapsed. This means US corporate deals worth almost pounds sterling 70bn have fallen apart in the space of 24 hours.

Last month Time batted away an $85-a-share bid from Fox, saying it was 'not in the best interests of shareholder' to accept the proposal or 'pursue any discussions'.

Murdoch had been expected to press ahead, with analysts saying a deal could be done at $100 per share.

Fox's shares fell by more than 10pc after the announcement of the talks making its initial offer less valuable because part of it was in Fox shares. As he formally walked away from the deal yesterday, Rupert Murdoch, both chief executive and chairman of Fox, said: 'We viewed a combination with Time Warner as a unique opportunity to bring together two great companies, each with celebrated content and brands.

'Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly. However, Time Warner management and its Board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling.'

He added: '21st Century Fox's future has never been brighter.'

Time Warner owns an enviable stable of entertainment labels including film studio Warner Bros, Superman and Batman owner DC Comics and HBO, the TV channel behind hit series such as Game of Thrones, starring Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, pictured.

The deal would also have provided an advancement opportunity for James Murdoch, who was being primed to take over from Fox president and chief operating officer Chase Carey as boss of the enlarged group.


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Source: Daily Mail (London, England)

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