The two aspects of Rupert Murdoch’s media activity, News Corp. and Fox, are considering a reunion proposal nearly 10 years after their split, the companies announced Friday.
The boards of Fox and News Corp. created committees to assess a possible deal, the companies said in statements. The committees have not made a decision on whether to merge.
The merger of Fox and News Corp. would represent an about-face for the two companies, which signaled to investors when they separated that the two companies were better separated.
The breakup plan came in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal at Britain’s The News of the World tabloid, which exposed the company to legal and financial risk. Several other media conglomerates followed suit, splitting their promising television businesses from their slower-growing print properties.
The deal, if completed, could bring together a collection of news and entertainment assets including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the Fox Broadcast Network and TMZ under the same umbrella.
In 2019, Murdoch sold some of his biggest entertainment assets, including movie studio 21st Century Fox, to The Walt Disney Co. It was one of many media deals that took place to compete with giants of technology like Meta, which owns Facebook, and Alphabet’s Youtube.
Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox and one of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, told Fox investors in 2019 that the companies would not come together.
Lachlan Murdoch, the chairman of both companies, proposed the deal for the past two weeks, according to three people with knowledge of the talks. The Murdoch Family Trust, which owns stakes in both companies, also approved the merger.
Murdoch sees potential opportunities to make money and cut costs by joining the two companies. The new company could look for ways to integrate its media properties. He could also explore ways to use the company’s assets for emerging business areas, such as sports betting. In 2019, Fox said it was partnering with Stars Group, a gaming company, to launch a sports betting platform called Fox Bet.
The merged companies could potentially save money by hiring a management team and maintaining a set of supplier relationships, the sources said.
The proposal would divide ownership among shareholders based on each company’s market value, said four people with knowledge of the talks. The proposal did not suggest a proposed relative valuation for the companies.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that News Corp. and Fox were considering a deal.
Robert Thomson, the CEO of News Corp., informed employees of the proposed merger in an email Friday.
“At News Corp., we are constantly looking for ways to improve our performance and grow our business, and the media upheaval presents both challenges and opportunities,” he wrote in the email. , which was viewed by The New York Times.
“However, I would like to emphasize that the Special Committee has made no decision at this time, and there can be no certainty that a transaction will result from its assessment,” Thomson wrote.