Rupert Murdoch plans to reunite Fox and News Corp
President Donald Trump (L) is embraced by Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, during a dinner to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea in WWII aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on May 4, 2017 in New York City.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch is considering whether to put his media companies News Corp. and Fox Corp. together, according to News Corp.
News Corp., which owns Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones, said Friday it had formed a special committee of board members to consider a possible deal. A merger is not certain, the company added in its announcement.
Fox Corp., which remained from the $71.3 billion sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney in 2019, owns the right-wing networks Fox News and Fox Business, which is a competitor to CNBC.
A combination would allow Murdoch to cement leadership of his media empire and cut costs. The talks come as viewership declines for both print and cable television as readers and viewers increasingly get their news and entertainment from social media, online news and streaming services.
The announcement will have no impact on News Corps’ current operations, CEO Robert Thomson told employees in a memo obtained by CNBC.
“I want to emphasize that the special committee has not made any decision at this time, and there can be no certainty that a transaction will result from this assessment,” he wrote.
Thomson also asked employees not to speculate on the potential deal or make formal comments to the media, shareholders or customers.
The news also comes as Fox Corp. and Fox News are facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion alleges Fox News and Fox Business made false claims that its voting machines rigged the results of the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
CNBC contacted Fox and News Corp. for comments. “Neither the Company nor the Special Committee intends to comment on or disclose any new developments regarding the work of the Special Committee unless and until they determine that additional disclosure is appropriate or required,” said News Corp. in its press release on Friday.
Murdoch, 91, split Fox and News Corp. in 2013. He is chairman of Fox and executive chairman of News Corp. His son Lachlan Murdoch is CEO of Fox and executive co-chairman of News Corp.
The Murdoch family owns a 42% voting stake in Fox and a 39% voting stake in News Corp., according to the Journal. Fox’s market value is around $17 billion, while News Corp. is around $9 billion, as of Friday’s close. Class A shares of News Corp. rose more than 3% after hours, while Fox’s Class A shares barely moved.
News Corp. also includes book publisher HarperCollins, scandal sheet The New York Post, and news outlets in the UK and Murdoch’s native Australia. Fox’s holdings also include the Fox Broadcast Network, which airs “The Simpsons” and NFL games.