Rupert Murdoch vowed not to make a new bid for BSkyB after the division of News Corporation yesterday, saying he would focus his media empire on the US because "the English" had made him unwilling to invest any further in the UK.
The News Corp chairman's anti-English outburst came in an American television interview after the company confirmed it would split its newspaper businesses, which include the Sun and The Times.
"No, I think we've moved on in our own thinking on that," Mr Murdoch replied, when asked if the split made it possible to revive the £7.8bn bid to take full control of BSkyB. "There are billions and billions of dollars. If Britain didn't want them, we've got good places to put them here. " The interviewer, on Mr Murdoch's business news channel Fox Business, asked if his reluctance was down to the political firestorm over phone hacking, to which the mogul replied: "No, just the English."
A reluctant-sounding Mr Murdoch sanctioned the spin-off of News Corp's publishing division this week, after pressure from outside investors who believe newspapers are dragging down the overall company. News Corp's fastest-growing and most profitable businesses are concentrated in television and entertainment, where it owns the Fox networks in the US and the 20th Century Fox film studio.
These entertainment assets account for almost 90 per cent of News Corp's profits, with barely 10 per cent coming from the publishing arm.
The stand-alone publishing company will wrap Mr Murdoch's newspapers in the UK, the US and Australia with HarperCollins book publishing.
Mr Murdoch will remain chief executive of the core News Corp entertainment group, leaving open the possibility that he will no longer have day-to-day involvement in his newspapers when the split takes effect in a year's time. But the Murdoch family will still control both companies.
News Corp shares have leapt more than 10 per cent since the split was mooted earlier this week.
Of the splitting up of News Corp, Mr Murdoch said: "I've been 58 years building a company... Gradually I realised the logic of it and how all the companies would be better managed."