A Short Seller Takes Aim at an Indian Corporate Giant
Elon Musk wraps up his testimony in a Tesla fraud trial. The billionaire testified on Tuesday that he hadn’t gotten specific numbers from potential partners he said had been willing to invest in his efforts to take the carmaker private. Meanwhile, Tesla said it planned to spend $3.6 billion to expand a factory in Nevada; It’s also set to report earnings after market close on Wednesday.
Rupert Murdoch’s dream is deferred
Months after Rupert Murdoch pushed to combine two key parts of his media empire, Fox and News Corp, the billionaire put that plan on hold on Tuesday, calling it “not optimal” at this time. The decision is a win for the investors — and at least one Murdoch family member — who opposed the idea.
Murdoch wanted to put his marquee holdings together, assembling Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the Fox TV network and TMZ under one roof. He was initially interested in potential cost savings and controlling a larger media company in an age when bigger is considered better: “Scale is important,” Lachlan Murdoch, Fox’s CEO and Rupert Murdoch’s heir apparent, said in November.
But investors had concerns. In November, the activist investor Irenic Capital Management, a shareholder in News Corp, questioned whether the Fox deal would be better than alternatives like selling the company’s real estate business. And T. Rowe Price, the investment manager, told The Times that Rupert Murdoch’s plan would probably undervalue News Corp.
Even the Murdoch family, which controls about 40 percent of the vote at both Fox and News Corp, may not have been fully united: James Murdoch, Mr. Rupert’s younger son wrote letters to the News Corp and Fox boards raising questions about the deal. (It’s unclear what those objections were.)
A new deal emerged instead. CoStar Group, which provides real estate data and marketing services to the commercial real industry, expressed interest in buying News Corp’s stake in Move, which owns Realtor.com, at a valuation of over $3 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the move. Once discussions with CoStar became serious, efforts to unite News Corp and Fox were paused.
What now? If News Corp sells its real estate unit, it would be left with a smaller collection of businesses that could stand alone or be sold. Meanwhile, Fox may need to find another partner to achieve the scale its chief says is important — though buying another media outlet, like the conservative broadcaster Sinclair, could raise antitrust concerns.