News Corp strengthens Liberty ties with Gemstar deal

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The Independent Online

News Corp, the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, strengthened its ties with Liberty Media Group yesterday, announcing a deal that will make News Corp the top shareholder in Gemstar-TV Guide International.

News Corp, the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, strengthened its ties with Liberty Media Group yesterday, announcing a deal that will make News Corp the top shareholder in Gemstar-TV Guide International.

News Corp said that in exchange for the Gemstar stake, Liberty Media would acquire 121.5 million News Corp American Depositary Receipts and become the company's top non-voting shareholder.

Analysts have said the stronger link with Liberty Media would also put News Corp in a better position to bid for Hughes Electronics.

General Motors, the automotive giant, is expected to put Hughes up for sale within months. News Corp has been touted along with others as a likely buyer of Hughes for its DirecTV satellite company.

News Corp's ADRs were up about 4 per cent and Gemstart-TV Guide was up 5 per cent. Liberty Media, run by cable TV programming tycoon John Malone, was up a fraction.

Under the deal, News Corp will buy Liberty Media's 21 per cent stake in Gemstar-TV Guide, a provider of interactive programming guides and publisher of TV Guide magazine. The purchase will boost News Corp's stake to 43 per cent and make it Gemstar-TV Guide's biggest single shareholder.

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