News Corp. stock on rise

Seagram shares up 3.4%

News Corp. stock surged Wednesday as investors applauded a planned joint venture with Singapore Telecommunications and the market continued upbeat on possible alliances between the company’s anticipated satellite spinoff and strategic investors such as Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Seagram stock also gained on the same old rumors that the company or its Universal Studios unit are for sale. Some Wall Streeters cited speculation regarding News Corp. as a possible buyer of Seagram/U as reason for both stocks rising, although such a deal would be more likely to depress News Corp. stock than otherwise.

Seagram shares closed up 3.4% to $60.75.

News shares jumped more than 4% to $60.88. They have advanced more than $5 over the past three days as company insiders acknowledged that Internet giant Yahoo! and others may participate in a new venture that will pool News Corp.’s wide-ranging satellite businesses. Any Yahoo! relationship, however, would be limited in scope and not encompass a particularly wide-ranging strategic alliance or either company buying the other, as some reports have indicated.

“Yahoo! is so expensive, News Corp.’s not going to buy it. And (News Corp. chairman-CEO Rupert) Murdoch doesn’t want to sell,” one News Corp. insider said. He said it’s silly for rumors to keep pairing the companies off when neither has any intention of buying or selling.

Merger rumors, which heated up after news of the American Online/Time Warner combination earlier this year, have linked Yahoo! with Walt Disney Co. as well.

As News Corp.’s relationship with Singapore Telecommunications, it will not include a $1 billion investment on News Corp.’s part. That cash was contingent on Singapore’s succeeding in buying Cable & Wireless HKT. That company, however, was just purchased by Pacific Century Cyberworks.

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