News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch outlined plans to split the media conglomerate's publishing and entertainment operations into two publicly traded companies, a decision he hailed as "the next transformative phase" in his empire's history.
The decision by the board of directors, reached Wednesday, culminated three years of planning, Murdoch said. Separating the film and television assets from its news and book publishing groups would unlock the value of each for shareholders, and allow these disparate businesses to continue to grow.
"We've come a long way in our journey that began almost 60 years ago with a single newspaper operating out of Adelaide," Murdoch said in a teleconference Thursday morning. "I'm convinced that each of these new companies will have the potential to continue their journey and prosper long as independent entities into the future."
Under the plan, the media and entertainment company would comprise 20th Century Fox film studio, the Fox broadcast network, and the company's cable TV group, which includes Fox News and FX. The online television service Hulu -- partly owned by News Corp. -- would also be included, as would the company's home satellite operations.
The global publishing company would consist of News Corp.'s newspaper holdings, among them the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, the Sun in Britain, as well as its HarperCollins book publishing group.
Murdoch, the 81-year-old company founder, offered a spirited defense of News Corp's newspaper business -- which has long been his passion. He said the standalone publishing company would have a strong balance sheet and be free to pursue investments to grow the business.
"The opportunity is so big its single-minded pursuit is the best approach," Murdoch said. "Our aim is nothing less than this: to create the most ambitious, well-capitalized and highly motivated news and publishing company in the world."
The separation could take about a year to complete, and would be subject to final board and shareholder approval.
Murdoch would serve as chairman and chief executive of the media and entertainment company, and as chairman of the new publishing entity. News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey would continue in that capacity for the entertainment business.
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