News Corp board agrees to the split of media giant

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News Corp said yesterday its board had approved a plan to split the company into two entities, and that Rupert Murdoch will remain as chief executive of its new, separate entertainment company.

The company will split the $60bn (£39bn) media conglomerate into publicly traded publishing and entertainment companies, with Murdoch as chairman of both, and his family retaining control.

It didn’t name an executive to lead the new publishing busi-ness.

News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey will remain in that role in the new entertainment business.

News Corp’s board, overseen by the 81-year-old Murdoch, met on Wednesday and authorised management to move ahead with the separation, the company said.

The entertainment company will include News Corp’s Fox broadcasting and cable networks, 20th Century Fox movie studios and pay-TV businesses in Europe and India.

The publishing company will include newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and The Sun, book publisher Harper Collins, an integrated marketing business as well as its fledgling digital education division.

Analysts and investors have been sceptical about whether the struggling publishing business would be able to prosper as a standalone. Murdoch addressed these concerns in a memo yesterday to his staff.

“Our publishing businesses are greatly undervalued by the sceptics. Through this transformation we will unleash their real potential,” said Mr Murdoch.

There has been mounting pressure on News Corp to get rid of its newspaper business after a phone-hacking scandal tainted its British titles and forced the company to drop its proposed acquisition of pay-TV group BSkyB.

“These are challenging times, but News International has always thrived by embracing change and setting the pace and benchmark for others,” Tom Mockridge, the head of British newspaper business News International, said in an email to staff.

Mr Mockridge made the comments to staff as he announced a price rise at The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers.

The mass market Sun, whose price will rise to 40p from 30p, would still be cheaper than most of its rivals, he said.

Analysts have said the inclusion of the newspapers in a smaller division could lead to more scrutiny of the newspapers and the business model.