Murdoch's wife gets MySpace role in China

Rupert Murdoch, the septuagenarian media mogul, is planning to appoint his wife, Wendi Deng, to the board of MySpace China, the latest overseas offshoot of the social networking website he bought last year.

The couple have been seeking local partners to help develop the Chinese version of the site, which has 80 million users across the rest of the world, and rumours are swirling that they are close to appointing a chairman for the venture.

News Corp - which paid $580m for the company behind MySpace in July 2005 - is understood to be talking to two Chinese private equity vehicles about backing the venture.

Mr Murdoch said that local partners were needed to ensure that MySpace China is tailored to a local audience and can avoid upsetting the Chinese government. The Communist regime, which censors many internet sites, is examining whether users will be allowed to upload videos to social networking sites without prior approval.

"I have sent my wife over there because she understands the language," Mr Murdoch said in September. The couple also visited the country together last month.

Ms Deng, 37, was born in China and met Mr Murdoch in Hong Kong, where she worked for his Star TV satellite broadcaster. Her appointment to MySpace China would be her first official job within her husband's empire since their marriage in 1999, although she has long aided him in his dealings in China.

MySpace was the first major acquisition since Mr Murdoch put the internet at the centre of News Corp's growth strategy, and the $580m price tag, criticised at the time, is now regarded as cheap by many media sector analysts. They cite MySpace's advertising deal with Google, which guarantees $900m in revenue over three years, and subsequent deals in the sector, including Google's $1.65bn takeover of YouTube.

News Corp has launched a dozen local versions of MySpace, although the US still accounts for two-thirds of users.

Chinese media reported earlier this week that Luo Chuan, the former general manager of MSN China, could be appointed MySpace China president this month.

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