News Corp bids $2bn for Aussie pay TV business

City A.M. Reporter
RUPERT Murdoch’s News Corp made a $2bn takeover offer for Australia’s Consolidated Media Holdings yesterday, boosting top shareholder and billionaire James Packer’s warchest as he abandons media in favour of casinos.

Packer, who has built stakes in casinos in Australia, London, Macau and Las Vegas, indicated he would accept the offer in the absence of a higher bid for the pay TV stakeholder, in which he holds 50.1 per cent.

For News Corp, which also announced sweeping cost and job cuts in Australia, a successful bid would double its stake in Australia's dominant pay TV business Foxtel to 50 per cent, and give it 100 per cent of content provider Fox Sports.

Shares in Consolidated Media jumped 10 per cent to A$3.39, just below the A$3.50 a share offer, which was pitched at a 14 per cent premium to the last close.

The bid by News Corp’s local unit to increase its pay TV interests came as it also announced a restructuring and unspecified job losses at its Australian business, which controls about 70 per cent of the country’s newspapers. News Corp said changes could take up to two years, but insisted there was a future in print as readers move online.

“Print is not dead,” said Kim Williams, chief executive of News Corp’s Australian operations and the former head of Foxtel.