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Rupert Murdoch: He Shoots, He Scores


In Business This Week: HEADLINER

RUPERT MURDOCH: HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES

Manchester United, Britain's richest football club, has accepted a $1.04 billion offer from BskyB, the satellite broadcaster 40% controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. He already owns part of the World Football League and the New York Knicks and the Rangers, and he bought the Los Angeles Dodgers this year.

Like Murdoch's other sports deals, this one is aimed at locking up programming. BskyB has thrived on exclusive broadcasts of Britain's Premier league, which includes Manchester United, under a $1.1 billion four-year deal that expires in 2001. Paul Richards, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, says Murdoch wants to retain access to the games.

He also wants a say in the shakeup looming in European soccer. A group associated with media mogul Silvio Berlusconi has been wooing Manchester United, and inviting top clubs in each nation to join a new soccer league. Stay tuned.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

THE SEC GETS TOUGH ON BONDS

ARTHUR LEVITT JR. is out to demystify the bond market. On Sept. 9, the Securities & Exchange Commission chairman called for new reporting requirements on every corporate bond transaction. Levitt directed the National Association of Securities Dealers to start a database of all corporate debt transactions, with bond dealers reporting their prices to NASD. This paves the way for entrepreneurs to take the next step: making bid and offer information available through online trading systems. Levitt also is beginning a new surveillance program following an SEC study unearthing abuses, including possible insider trading among bond market players. The Bond Market Assn. has opposed new reporting mandates in the past, but now says it looks forward to working with regulators.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

WHAT'S GROUNDING NORTHWEST TALKS

ELEVEN DAYS INTO THE STRIKE at Northwest Airlines, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey on Sept. 8 tried to jump-start talks between the pilots' union and the company. But it won't be easy. For one thing, numerous proteges of corporate raider and union nemesis Frank Lorenzo now hold senior positions at Northwest. Chief negotiator Richard Hirst and marketing head Michael Levine worked under Lorenzo in the '80s. And on Sept. 3, Northwest made special projects officer Mickey Foret--who was president of Continental Airlines under Lorenzo--chief financial officer.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

A NEW DIESEL ON GM'S EASEL

TEAM EFFORT: GENERAL MOTORS announced on Sept. 9 a $320 million joint venture with Isuzu Motors to build a new generation of diesel engines at a new plant in Moraine, Ohio. The venture will give GM a quieter, cleaner V-8 engine for its full-size pickup trucks. The decision to build near an existing GM diesel factory, which will close when the new facility opens in 2000, pleased local workers and their union, the International Union of Electrical Workers, since all 500 workers can keep their jobs. A union official says GM had considered moving the operations to Mexico.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


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