Murdoch’s split-up News Corp has wobbly first day of trading

RUPERT Murdoch’s media companies saw their shares go in opposite directions yesterday, their first day of trading since News Corporation was split into two entities.

21st Century Fox – the division that contains Murdoch’s Fox TV network, the 20th Century Fox film company and a 39 per cent stake in Sky – rose in trading, but the spun-off publishing arm fared less well.

News Corp – which is, somewhat confusingly, the name for the new publishing company spun out of the News Corp split – saw shares fall by around two per cent in New York.

The less profitable, smaller firm contains the Wall Street Journal, the Times and Sun newspapers, the HarperCollins book publisher and a host of other print assets.

The split is seen as an attempt to detoxify the 21st Century Fox assets from News Corp’s titles, which are suffering from shrinking circulations and have been hit by the fallout from the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World. “The new News Corp faces a significant number of challenges,” said Michael Underhill at Enders Analysis. “Compared to 21st Century Fox its margins are small, and in many cases shrinking.”

Murdoch has remained chairman of both companies and is chief executive of 21st Century Fox, while former Times editor Robert Thomson is News Corp’s chief.