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NEWS CORP. ANNOUNCES FOX IPO: HOPES TO BRING IN $2-4B
Published June 30, 1998
News Corp. unveiled plans Monday for a stock offering to include 20% of its film, broadcasting and sports assets -- including the Dodgers -- in a deal that could raise "up to" $2B for the company, which would be called the Fox Group, according to Sallie Hofmeister of the L.A. TIMES. Last year, broadcasting and film accounted for "about half" of News Corp.'s $13B in revenue. Paine Webber analyst Christopher Dixon said that "should it be valued comparably to CBS, Time Warner or Viacom," the Fox Group would be worth $16-20B. Following the announcement, shares in News Corp. went up 12%, or $3.56 per share, closing at $33.06 (L.A. TIMES, 6/30). CNN's Donald Van De Mark reported that included in the Fox Group are the RSNs that Fox co-owns with Liberty Media, the Dodgers and options to buy minority stakes in the Lakers and NHL Kings ("Moneyline," 6/29). WHAT IT MEANS: The company said that proceeds from the sale "are likely to be used to repurchase News Corp. stock, pay down debt and possibly fund more acquisitions" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/30). In L.A., Dave McNary writes that analysts believe that Murdoch's "goal" is to "obtain more broadcast rights and programming assets." McNary also writes that "if Murdoch's recent moves are any indication," most of the money from the IPO "will be used to expand his power over professional sports" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/30). Also in L.A., Sallie Hofmeister reports that sources say News Corp. "is preparing to buy out its cable partners in PrimeStar Inc." (L.A. TIMES, 6/30). In N.Y., Phyllis Furman cites "huge expenses," including Fox's $4.4B NFL TV deal as a reason for the IPO (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/30). CNN's Donald Van De Mark reported that Murdoch "wants to pay down debt and buy back News Corp. stock" ("Moneyline," CNN, 6/29). REAX: Mark Greenberg, Portfolio Manager at Ivesco Leisure Fund, a News Corp. shareholder: "The move makes a lot of sense because it will allow News Corp. to raise money without [News Corp. Chair Rupert] Murdoch having to give up control." Cowen & Co. Analyst Gary Farber: "It's all about stock simplification. News Corp. may be later to the party than the rest of the guys, but they will benefit" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/30). First Union Capital Markets analyst Bishop Cheen: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that these assets are worth more if they're separated out. There's a lot of value that's lost by being part of the huge [News Corp.] umbrella" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/30).