Pulling the Wings off of News Corp

In the Hutong
Almost Sundown…I think
1638 hrs.

In early February New York magazine ran a superb bit about News Corporation’s aging Chairman Rupert Murdoch and the looming prospect of a succession at the media giant. As Gabriel Sherman notes:

King Lear in the Storm, oil on canvas, painted...
Image via Wikipedia

“Those of us who care for Rupert, and I do very much, hope we don’t get the fifth act of King Lear,” says David Yelland, former editor of Murdoch’s London tabloid the Sun, now a partner with the Brunswick Gro

up. “You won’t find anyone to say anything critical about James Murdoch on or off the record. But the moment Rupert goes, that changes. Once he does pass, it will be very difficult to keep the company together. I almost wonder if he senses that and, toward the end of his life, we’ll suddenly wake up one morning and we’ll see an announcement he’s taking it private, or merge it with Google, or Microsoft, or [Liberty Media’s chairman] John Malone.”

Yelland offers some interesting scenarios. The alternative is to dismember the group into its component parts, selling them off one-by-one. The only bits worth keeping are the subscriber-driven businesses. If I were Mr. Murdoch, I’d be getting out of the ad-supported business right quick.

But, of course, that business is what he know. So it is unlikely.

I hope, for the sake of all involved that Yelland is right. If Murdoch clutches the lot to his chest until he takes his last breath, Wall Street’s carrion birds will be circling News Corp, not even waiting for it to fall over before picking it apart.