Murdoch to spend $1bn on internet buy-ups

Rupert Murdoch

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch says he intends to make several more internet acquisitions in coming months as he transforms the international media company into a "dominant player on the web".

Murdoch recently announced the creation of the Fox Interactive Media (FIM) division, and acquisition of blogging community MySpace.com for $580m in cash. MySpace will be folded into FIM. Yesterday, Murdoch said that acquisition was due to be followed by News Corp taking a "controlling interest in a wonderful search engine", but would not say which one.

Murdoch said the total additional amount he expected to spend would not go past $1bn. "This is not something that we're putting tens of billions in here, or need to." He added: "Make no mistake. Our commitment to this space will constitute a major part of this company's growth, profits and asset building over the next several years."

Earlier Murdoch unveiled News Corp's fourth quarter results showing profits up 67% to $717m. Revenues rose 11.7% to $6.11bn.

News Corp's Italian pay-TV venture Sky Italia generated operating profits of $74m in the fourth quarter against a year-ago loss of $26m. Over the past year the service has attracted more than 650,000 net new subscribers, taking its total subscriber base to more than 3.3m.

News Corp also announced it had extended a defensive "poison pill" measure to prevent attempts to gain control of the company for a further two years. Last autumn News Corp adopted the measure after media investor John Malone took an 18% voting stake in the business.

Murdoch would not comment on the announcement that his elder son Lachlan would be leaving the company. The surprise move leaves James Murdoch, chief executive at BSkyB, 36.8% owned by News Corp, the only one of Rupert Murdoch's four adult children with an executive position in the company, and heir apparent of the media conglomerate.

Lovelacemedia  |  11.08.2005

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