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MURDOCH LOOKING TO STAPLE DOWN DEAL TO BUY SHARE OF LAKERS
Published April 2, 1998
News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch "is near agreement on deals to buy part of the new Staples Center and part of the Lakers," according to Heisler & Hofmeister of the L.A. TIMES. Under the deals, "which would be announced in stages, Fox would purchase 40% of the arena and a similar percentage" of the NHL Kings' option to buy a piece of the Lakers. Because the Kings' option is for 25% of the Lakers, Fox would become a 10% owner. One source: "It's a done deal, at least as far as the arena is concerned." Fox has cable rights to the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings and Clippers and is "pushing to hold on to those rights as part of its rivalry" with Disney, which will form ESPN West. Heisler & Hofmeister report that the Fox Group originally tried to purchase 40% of the entire Kings franchise, but "was turned down" by the NHL because Fox has a 20% stake in Madison Square Garden -- as part of its Fox/Liberty entity -- making it a minority Owner of the Rangers. Fox then restructured the deal to purchase the Kings' arena and their option on the Lakers. A source "close to the negotiations," said the deal would give Murdoch "creeping control of the Kings, through the backdoor." Fox's MSG stake also give it a share of the Knicks, but NBA rules allow minority owners to hold noncontrolling shares of multiple teams (L.A. TIMES, 4/2).