Reports: News Corp Board to Discuss Split Today


News Corp.'s board of directors were expected to begin meeting today (June 27) to discuss the possibility of splitting its operations into two separate publicly traded entities, with a final decision expected to be announced by June 28, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Analysts have called for the separation for years, but News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, who had been an opponent of a split in the past, has apparently warmed to the concept. In a brief statement Tuesday, News Corp. confirmed what its own Wall Street Journal broke earlier in the day - that it is considering separating its publishing unit from its more profitable television and film businesses.
"News Corporation confirmed today that it is considering a restructuring to separate its business into two distinct publicly traded companies," the company said in its statement Tuesday.
According to the Journal, News Corp.'s board of directors were scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the split. If the board decides to go forward with the action, it would be announced Thursday morning, the Journal reported.
While no details have emerged yet, it is expected that the structure will be much like Viacom's 2006 split from CBS. Murdoch, like Viacom and CBS chairman Sumner Redstone, is expected to retain his titles for both entities.
News Corp. owns U.S. newspapers the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, U.K. papers The Times of London and the Sun and The Australian newspaper in that country. In addition, it owns book publisher HarperCollins and education businesses including Wireless Generation, an educational technology business that News acquired for $390 million in 2011.
On the other side are its cable networks - including Fox News Channel, FX, National Geographic Channel, The Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Networks - the Fox Broadcasting Network and movie studio 20th Century Fox.
According to News Corp.'s financial statements, the publishing unit reported revenue of $8.8 billion in fiscal 2011, a 3% increase over the prior year. Its cable network, television and film units reported combined revenue of $19.7 billion in fiscal 2011, a 4.3% increase from the prior year.
Investors appear to favor a split - News Corp shares rose more than 8% ($1.68 each) on Tuesday to $21.96 per share after the news broke. The stock was up 1% (21 cents each) to $22.17 per share in early trading Wednesday.