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News Corp.-Shine deal imminent

Production house may look to acquire other shingles

News Corp. is expected to announce as early as next week that it has bought Elisabeth Murdoch’s shingle Shine.

Rupert Murdoch’s media conglom has been in pole position to acquire Shine, thought to be worth around £700 million ($1.1 billion), since last month, when it emerged that his daughter, who owns 53% of the firm, had put the producer-distrib on the market.

Neither Shine nor News Corp. would comment on reports in local media that an agreement had been reached or that the greenlight would be given at a News Corp. board meeting next week.

It is thought that Elisabeth Murdoch, who has built the combo via an aggressive acquisitions strategy, will net around £371 million ($598 million) from the sale.

News Corp. already owns 13% of Shine via its U.K. paybox BSkyB, while Sony wants to offload its 20% stake in the company.

There is intense speculation over what Elisabeth Murdoch’s role would be at News Corp. once Shine becomes part of the family firm.

Before setting up Shine in 2001, she was a topper at BSkyB, where she oversaw the launch of Sky Digital. However, she left after failing to secure the top job, which was given to Murdoch loyalist Tony Ball. He subsequently ankled to make way for Elisabeth Murdoch’s brother, James.

One possibility: Once Shine is part of the News Corp. stable, Elisabeth Murdoch will use News Corp.’s financial firepower to create a bigger London-based content powerhouse.

It is even suggested that, flush with News Corp. cash, she would target the likes of Endemol, the highly leveraged entertainment giant partly owned by Mediaset, John de Mol and Goldman Sachs.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Elisabeth Murdoch is not keen to relocate to the U.S. to run News Corp.’s TV businesses or to position herself as a rival to James Murdoch, who runs News Corp.’s activities outside the U.S., as a potential successor to Rupert Murdoch.

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