Rupert Murdoch wants to merge Fox with News Corp, a deal that would reunite the television group behind the Fox News cable 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 been discussing a deal over the past several weeks and 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. Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox chief executive and eldest son of Rupert, is expected to be involved in the leadership, said one person close to the process. Fox has a stock market capitalisation of $17bn, compared to News Corp’s $9bn.
The move comes a decade after 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, said people familiar with the matter.
The Murdochs see opportunities for collaboration across the business news brands of Fox and News Corp including Fox Business, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch, said people familiar with the matter.
They also see an opportunity to strengthen their sports betting push by folding together sports coverage from News Corp’s city newspapers with Fox’s sports television channels, these people said.
In an internal email, News Corp told employees it had received letters from 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 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.