News Ltd. "may consider selling its majority stake" in the National Rugby League Brisbane Broncos "in a historic move as the media company continues its strategic exit from rugby league," according to Walter & Lutton of the BRISBANE TIMES. Sources said that "an accounting firm had been engaged to perform due diligence on the club in a move that suggests News is preparing for a prospective sale" of its 68% shareholding in the Broncos. Suggestions the Broncos "could also be up for sale came as no surprise to rugby league insiders, given the rapidly changing face of News' involvement in the sport." The company "handed back control of the game" to the Australian Rugby League Commission in February and soon after said that "it would look to relinquish its interest in the Storm." Now it appears the media company "is considering the same move at the Broncos, which remains one of the blue-chip brands in Australian sport." Along with six premierships in the cabinet and a capital city market all to itself, the club "has net assets of more than" A$26M ($27M) and returned a pre-tax profit for the June half-year of A$2.22M (BRISBANE TIMES, 1/26).
SHOCK EFFECT: In Brisbane, Peter Badel reported Broncos CEO Paul White was "shocked at speculation News Limited is considering selling the club." White insisted that "he is unaware of any News sell-off, which would represent one of the biggest upheavals since the Broncos' inception" in '88. White said, "It's business as usual from our point of view. I have read the story. We have received no formal notification from News Ltd. that they are contemplating any change to their shareholding at this stage" (SUNDAY MAIL, 1/27).