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Elisabeth Murdoch makes $214 million in sale of Shine to News Corp.

August 18, 2011|By Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth Murdoch collected $214 million from the sale of her British TV production company, Shine Group, to her father's media company this year.

In April, News Corp. paid $675 million to buy her 10-year-old company, which produces such TV programs as "The Biggest Loser" and "MasterChef." Of that amount, about $480 million was earmarked for Shine's equity partners, News Corp. said in its annual report filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Until now, it was unclear exactly how much Elisabeth Murdoch made on the sale.

The 42-year-old Murdoch was the majority shareholder, owning 53% of Shine, a company that she steadily built by acquiring small TV production companies in various countries. In 2008 she bought U.S.-based Reveille, which produces "The Office" for NBC.

Sony Pictures Entertainment owned 20% of Shine.

News Corp. said $135 million of the purchase price went to retire Shine's debt and pay other liabilities. An additional $60 million, part of the $480 million attributed to equity, has been set aside in escrow to "satisfy any indemnification obligations," the company said.

Elisabeth Murdoch, the document said, "is entitled to her proportionate share of amounts that are released from escrow," meaning she will probably receive more than the initial $214-million payment.

The acquisition of Shine by News Corp. quickly triggered shareholder lawsuits. In one, a New York bank representing several investment funds alleged that Rupert Murdoch operates News Corp. as a "family candy store" to pursue pet projects and reward his children and other family members. That suit, filed in a Delaware court, contends that Shine was worth far less than the $675 million that News Corp. paid.

When News Corp. announced in March that it was buying Shine, Rupert Murdoch said that Elisabeth Murdoch would be joining him and her two brothers, Lachlan and James, on the News Corp. board.

However, this month, after the filing of the shareholder lawsuits and a phone-hacking scandal that has roiled the media company and the British political establishment, News Corp. said that Elisabeth Murdoch had decided to delay her appointment to the board.

meg.james@latimes.com

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