Rupert Murdoch has started a process that could reunite his media empire, News Corp and Fox Corp disclosed on Friday, saying they would consider combining at his behest, nearly a decade after the companies split.
Both have formed special committees to review proposals of a potential combination, they said.
If a deal goes through, the combination will allow Murdoch greater control over his media assets and help the companies trim costs. Media companies are fighting decades-low growth in advertising sales and for users’ attention against deep-pocketed social media and content websites.
After years of expansion globally, Murdoch split his empire in 2013, placing the print business in newly created public entity News Corp and the TV and entertainment under 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch said at the time that his vast media holdings became “increasingly complex”, and that a new structure would simplify operations. The split also shielded Fox’s entertainment assets from any potential financial fallout from a phone-hacking scandal involving the media conglomerate’s now-defunct News of the World publication in the UK.
The thinking at the time was that separating the companies would eventually generate value for shareholders, according to an informed source. That vision was realised as Fox sold most of its film and television assets to Walt Disney for $71bn in 2019.
The sale left Fox focused on live events such as news and sports, rather than “disruptable” scripted entertainment content on the streaming platforms, Wall Street analysts observed at the time.