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Rupert Murdoch: Spinning Out Of Orbit


In Business This Week: Headliner

Rupert Murdoch: Spinning out of Orbit

When Rupert Murdoch inherited News Corp. in the 1950s, it published one newspaper in Australia. Now it's a global print, TV, satellite, and film giant. And after years of Murdoch's complaints that his creation is undervalued, he's planning to spin off News's satellite assets, including its 40% stake in British Sky Broadcasting, into a separate public company. Two years ago, he sold a stake in Fox Entertainment Group and started trading it separately. So what's left at the core of News Corp. stock? Majority ownership of Fox and the satellite unit--and ownership of a slower growing print business including papers in Britain and Australia, the New York Post, book publisher HarperCollins, and a magazine insert unit. News Corp. stock has jumped 123% since October. No doubt Murdoch is hoping for more, given EchoStar stock's eightfold increase in the past year. Indeed, he may now regret aborting a partnership with EchoStar in 1997. But if satellites don't do it, there's not much left to spin off to keep the stock price moving up at the same rate.By Richard Siklos in New York; Edited by Pat WechslerReturn to top

Microsoft Charges the Hill

With settlement talks apparently going nowhere, Microsoft has redoubled its efforts to argue its case on Capitol Hill. Two Microsoft lobbyists--both former staffers to key congressmen--have penned a list of "talking points" to persuade members to prevent the breakup of the company. The document repeatedly uses three "R" words: radical, reckless, and regulation. It cites a poll the company commissioned that 63% of the public opposes any split. One twist: no denials about being a monopoly, just tough talk about the negative consequences of breaking Microsoft into multiple parts. This is not its first foray on the Hill. Microsoft's earlier efforts to push for budget cuts at the Justice Dept. led Congress to up the budget 12%.Edited by Pat WechslerReturn to top

Thomson Is Dumping the Ink

Betting there's more life in the Net than in print, Thomson will sell all 130 of its newspapers across North America except for The Globe and Mail, its Toronto flagship. A powerhouse in legal, scientific, and educational data, Thomson wants to focus on globally marketable electronic products and services, not local papers. Even now, with 55 dailies, only 15% of its $6 billion in annual sales is accounted for by newspapers. But the Thomson family, owners of 73%, want to hang on to The Globe and Mail because "there's a psychological value" in running it, says David Radler, president of rival chain Hollinger International.Edited by Pat WechslerReturn to top

A Big Olympics Sponsor Stays Put

A year ago, the scandal-plagued International Olympic Committee had no more caustic critic than David D'Alessandro, president of John Hancock Financial Services. While other corporate honchos stayed quiet, D'Alessandro challenged the Olympics governing body to change or lose the insurer's sponsorship dollars. Even so, on Feb. 15, Hancock rejoined. In what amounts to an endorsement of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch's reform efforts, the Boston insurer signed a four-year sponsorship deal valued at more than $50 million. It's the latest indication that "the scandal largely has passed," says Sean Brenner, managing editor of the IEG Sponsorship Report. And as D'Alessandro now says, a critic on the inside has more power to effect changes.Edited by Pat WechslerReturn to top


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