News Corp. Split Date Approaches As Board Of Directors Approves Separation And New 21st Century Fox

Fox News Reuters Ailes
Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes Reuters

NWSA News Corp. headquarters in New York City.  Reuters

The board of directors at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) has approved a much-anticipated plan to separate the multinational media conglomerate into two publicly traded companies, News Corp. announced on Friday.

Under the separation, News Corp.’s publishing business will retain the name News Corp. (currently being referred to as the “new News Corp.” by the company) while its entertainment business will be called 21st Century Fox. News Corp. also announced appointments to the boards of both companies, which will take effect upon completion of the split.

The separation is expected to be finalized on June 28.

It’s been almost a year since Murdoch, the company’s chairman and chief officer, announced a plan to spin off News Corp.’s struggling publishing business from its more profitable entertainment business. Analysts expect the move to not only poise News Corp.’s entertainment and media divisions for long-term growth without having to shoulder the weight of an uncertain print industry, but also to shield those divisions from mounting legal costs associated with the phone-hacking scandal surrounding the now-defunct U.K. tabloid News of the World.

In December, News Corp. announced that it had tapped Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and a longtime Murdoch confidant, to become the CEO of the new News Corp. Murdoch will serve as chairman and CEO of the proposed 21st Century Fox and as executive chairman of the new News Corp. In a statement Friday, Murdoch called the board’s approval a “significant step” toward creating two independent companies.

“We continue to believe that the separation will unlock the true value of both companies and their distinct assets, enabling investors to benefit from the separate strategic opportunities resulting from more focused management of each division,” Murdoch said in a statement.

News Corp.’s entertainment business includes Fox News and the Fox Broadcasting Group, as well as the 20th Century Fox movie studio. Its publishing business includes a slew of newspapers such as the Times of London, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as HarperCollins Publishers.

Spinning off publishing companies is becoming something of a trend among media conglomerates. In March, Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TXW) followed in News Corp.’s footsteps, announcing that it planned to spin off Time Inc. -- its publishing unit and the country’s largest magazine company -- into a separately traded public company.

News Corp. shares were up .09 percent Friday to $33.10 in early trading.

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