View from City Road: The fun at News Corp is postponed

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The Independent Online
What a shame. News Corporation yesterday formally denied rumours that Rupert Murdoch is planning to float off a minority shareholding in News International on the London stock market, thus depriving us all of much merriment and fun. Remember the Max factor, and even the Conrad Black factor? Defining the Murdoch factor in valuing the company would have been quite something. Some believe News International, holding company for Mr Murdoch's UK newspaper interests and his 51 per cent stake in BSkyB, could be worth as much as pounds 4bn to pounds 5bn; the prospect of such a float has had fee-hungry investment bankers positively drooling in anticipation. But it's apparently not to be. This despite the fact that it might have provided Mr Murdoch with a solution to one of his most pressing problems - how to get the money for a big acquisition in the US without taking on another mountain of debt or diluting his controlling family interest in News Corp. With News International as a stand-alone British company, it might also have lessened Mr Murdoch's regulatory problems, particularly in the event of an incoming Labour government. Denials are denials, but it's 10 to 1 on that the option has and will again be examined.

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