News Corp bid for BSkyB could cause shareholder battle – Telegraph

by peterjukes

However, Crispin Odey, who used to be married to Mr Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence, and whose hedge fund owns almost 3pc stake in the broadcaster, has warned that the Murdochs will face an even bigger fight with shareholders this time around.

He said that activist shareholders have been buying into the broadcaster, at the same time as News Corp’s power has been diluted in its ongoing share buyback – a combination which diminishes Mr Murdoch’s sway and means he will face a bigger fight with investors to convince them that News Corp should be allowed to take full control of BSkyB.

“[News Corp] has agreed to sell their shares into this buy back [whilst other shareholders don’t have to] so the rest of us are increasing our shareholdings at the Murdochs’ expense,” Mr Odey said.

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“Some of the new shareholders at BSkyB are more at the activist end. We have more people owning shares knowing why they own them [because of the underlying strengths of BSkyB]. At this point, there is no bid premium.”

As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, Chase Carey, chief operating officer of News Corp, is understood to have instructed executives to look at a number of options to hive off the newspaper arm, which has been severely damaged by the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Mr Murdoch has denied the plans, but the proposals which are in their infancy are understood to include creating a trust to manage the UK newspaper assets, going into a joint venture with a media partner, or selling them off to a private equity firm.

A source close to News Corporation’s initial BSkyB bid said: “It has unfinished business. When it last tried to buy BSkyB, its solution was to spin off its newspapers. It will address some of News Corp’s corporate governance issues but this is really about getting News Corp into a position where it can go after BSkyB again.”

Shares in the pay-TV broadcaster are expected to rise with the prospect of another bid, as well as expectations that the Competition Commission will backtrack on its threats to impose restrictions on the number of exclusive deals BSkyB is allowed to strike for Hollywood films.

via News Corp bid for BSkyB could cause shareholder battle – Telegraph.

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