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Rupert Murdoch considers merging Fox and News Corp

Rupert Murdoch wants to merge Fox with News Corp, a deal that would reunite the television group behind the Fox cable news channel with the owner of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal.

The 91-year-old media mogul has proposed the combination of the two companies in an all-stock deal, in a move to gain scale in a cut-throat and consolidating media landscape.

The boards of Fox and News Corp have developed special committees of independent directors to evaluate the merger, said people familiar with the matter. It is not clear who would lead a combined group, these people said. Fox has a stock market capitalisation of $17bn, compared to News Corp’s $9bn.

The move comes a decade after Rupert Murdoch decided to split his empire, saying at the time that his newspaper holdings and television assets would be “better managed” as separate entities.

But over the past decade the internet has transformed the media business, and the industry has consolidated. Murdoch in 2019 sold most of his Fox assets to Disney, leaving the remaining group a relative minnow in an industry of conglomerates. Facing competition from the world’s largest companies — Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Google — Murdoch is looking to build scale, according to people familiar with the matter.

In an internal email, News Corp told employees that it had received letters from Rupert Murdoch and the Murdoch family trust. Its board is assessing the combination, it said, but “has not made any determination at this time”.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Murdoch was exploring the merger.

Until last year there had been legal obstacles to any reconfiguration of the Murdoch empire — as part of the terms of the 2019 sale of most of Fox’s assets to Disney, Murdoch was precluded from further asset sales for two years. That restriction lifted in March 2021.

Murdoch retains command over the family trust, which controls the voting shares of News Corp and Fox. When he dies, the power to determine the trust’s position is dispersed equally between Murdoch’s four eldest children, while his youngest two daughters — Grace, 20, and Chloe, 18 — are beneficiaries. This means that for any decision to be taken, at least two or three siblings will need to agree.

Fox owns the eponymous cable news channel as well as local broadcast television stations, while News Corp is the owner of newspapers including the Sun in the UK and The Wall Street Journal.

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