New York: Rupert Murdoch split his corporate empire into two parts on Friday under a long-promised plan to “unlock value” by separating high-flying entertainment operations from struggling publishing activities.
The split became effective at the close of trade in New York, creating a new group called 21st Century Fox while retaining the name News Corp for the publishing group. Murdoch remains in charge of both.
The 21st Century Fox group, which includes the Fox Hollywood studios and television entities, “launches as a unique force bringing news and entertainment to more than a billion customers every day in over 100 languages,” said Murdoch.
“Our success will continue to be rooted in a deep belief in originality and a commitment to empowering creative minds and entrepreneurs around the world.
“Our management teams are the best in the business and we will drive growth and shareholder value by expanding our existing assets and brands, while embracing new opportunities and technology.”
The new News Corp, with Murdoch in the role of chairman, includes well-known newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Post in the US; The Sunday Times of London, Sunday Telegraph and The Sun in Britain; and The Australian.
It also includes Dow Jones news agency, Fox Sports Australia and the HarperCollins publishing house.
“We are continuing a proud tradition and fashioning a prosperous future in the new News Corp,” chief executive Robert Thomson said.
“We have a valuable collection of complementary companies and our task is to make the new News more than the sum of these distinguished parts.”
New News Corp shares will trade under the ticker symbols “NWSA” and “NWS,” starting on Monday. Shares in 21st Century Fox will trade under the symbols “FOXA” and “FOX.”
The split of the company, with some $34 billion in revenues worldwide, is seen partly as a nod to shareholders angered by the damage and costs inflicted by a phone hacking scandal in Britain, and partly because of troubles within the group’s publishing arm.
While some analysts see the outlook for publishing as bleak, Murdoch says he remains committed to his newspaper roots.
Murdoch has spent a lifetime building News Corp from a single Australian newspaper he inherited.
As his empire was being built through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Murdoch also went through a series of unions and breakups in his personal life.
Earlier this month, Murdoch filed papers to divorce his third wife Wendi Deng, citing an “irretrievably” broken marriage to a woman 38 years his junior.
Deng was perhaps best known for a 2011 incident in which she leapt to defend her husband by striking a pie-wielding protester, prompting headlines calling her a “tiger wife.”
The divorce will not affect the way in which the media empire is run, as Deng does not have stock or voting rights in News Corp, sources familiar with the company said. AFP