The News International scandal, which today led Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, to refer Rupert Murdoch’s bid to acquire complete control of British Sky Broadcasting, throws the entire shape of his UK operations into doubt.
Might the ultimate effect be that News Corporation disposes of its troublesome UK print operations to focus on its far bigger and more profitable entertainment assets in the US and elsewhere in the world?
That possibility, raised by Andrew Hill last week, would have seemed implausible even a week ago. Rupert Murdoch is an inky-fingered newspaperman who loves papers of every stripe and infuriated investors by paying $5bn for Dow Jones four years ago. Events are, however, moving very fast. Read more
Having been jailed in 2007 for hacking phones on behalf of the News of the World, Glenn Mulcaire this week pleaded for understanding. “I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically,” the private investigator told The Guardian. “But, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had broken the law at all.”
When advertisers put pressure on news organisations, it’s often a sign press freedom is threatened. From South Africa to Hong Kong, public opinion puts companies or governments that use their commercial clout to protest against editorial policy on the side of the bad guys.
It’s symptomatic of the sorry state of UK news media that in the widening scandal over phone-hacking, the reverse is true. Read more
The problem of Chinese companies that have run into trouble after gaining listings on US and Canadian exchanges through reverse mergers reminds me of the controversy about emerging market investment companies being listed in London.
I noted last week Richard Lambert’s FT article on Vallares, the investment company run by Nat Rothschild and Tony Hayward, which has promised London investors transparency along with chance to buy undervalued commodity assets.
Meanwhile, the FT has covered the short-selling attacks on Chinese companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and US bourses, including Nasdaq. Twelve of these have been suspended from trading on Nasdaq over accounting flaws. Read more
In June 2004, Mark Zuckerberg turned down an offer of $10m for his four-month-old social network. Four years later, Twitter’s founders – Biz Stone, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey – declined an all-stock offer worth $500m from Mr Zuckerberg.
Li Ka-shing’s interest in the British utilities company Northumbrian Water has set off a predictable ripple of nationalism.
Local politicians have started to air their fears that a takeover by Cheung Kong Infrastructure, controlled by the Hong Kong tycoon, would put local jobs at risk. But it would be odd and inconsistent if anybody in authority acted on those fears to impede the bid. Read more