News Corp’s plan to sell one of its multibillion-dollar real estate assets has fallen apart, the latest setback to Rupert Murdoch’s dealmaking ambitions.
The company had been in advanced talks to sell its 80 per cent share of Move Inc to rival property listings group CoStar, in a deal valued in the “low billions” of dollars, the Financial Times reported last month.
However, on Tuesday News Corp said it was “no longer engaged” in these talks.
“News Corp will continue to actively assess opportunities to support the company’s strategy to optimise the value of its [real estate assets] and otherwise maximise shareholder value,” according to a statement.
Murdoch, who turns 92 next month, had been seeking to combine News Corp with Fox, reuniting the two halves of his media empire. But last month he called off the proposed merger after meeting resistance from independent shareholders. At the time, people close to the situation said the potential sale of Move had put any other deals on hold.
News Corp owns about 80 per cent of Move, while the remaining 20 per cent is held by REA Group, the listed Australian real estate group that is also majority owned by News Corp.
Some independent News Corp shareholders have long argued that the company is worth less on the stock market than the sum of its pieces.
Irenic Capital Management, which holds about 2.6 per cent of News Corp’s class B voting shares, last month said scrapping the Fox merger was the “right decision”, while adding that “further steps are necessary to unlock the value in REA, Dow Jones and News Corp’s other high quality assets”.
News Corp in 2014 acquired Move for $950mn, a deal that chief executive Robert Thomson at the time described as an “exponential evolution” of the company’s print publishing business.
Digital real estate has become a larger part of News Corp’s overall business, growing from 5 per cent of total revenue in 2014 to 17 per cent in 2022. Revenues at the group’s digital real estate segment grew by 25 per cent to more than $1.7bn in the 2022 fiscal year.