Prince buys into News Corp.

NEW YORK — News Corp. stock rose 50¢ to $21 Monday after Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal revealed he had acquired 5% of the media conglomerate’s stock for $400 million.

The prince told Time magazine in an interview that he bought into News because it is the “only truly global news and entertainment company.” News Corp. stock has been in the doldrums in recent months as earnings growth has slowed and the company has focused on long-term investments in cable and satellite ventures.

“We welcome him as a shareholder,” a News Corp. spokesman said.

The exact amount of stock acquired by the prince isn’t known, and he doesn’t appear to have filed a disclosure statement with the SEC, as is required when anyone buys more than 5% of a company’s outstanding stock.

Wall Streeters said the prince appeared to have bought News’ non-voting preference shares, which trade at a discount to common stock. If so, his stake is effectively about 2%-2.5% of the total outstanding stock. Calls made to the prince’s reps in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles were not returned.

Even at 5%, the prince is well behind News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, whose family owns about 30% of the stock, and institutional investor Capital Research, which owns 6%-7%.

News Corp. isn’t the first media investment made by the prince, who owns 24% of EuroDisney and has a joint venture with Michael Jackson. The prince also partnered with Murdoch on an unsuccessful bid for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer last year, sources say, although people close to News Corp. say Murdoch and the prince are not particularly close.

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