Share and share alike for Vox

Bertelsmann, Murdoch likely to split station stake

BERLIN (Reuters) — German publishing and media giant Bertelsmann said Monday that a row with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch over the Vox television channel would likely end in the two groups taking equal shares.

Bertelsmann chairman Mark Woessner told Berlin’s InfoRadio that Vox “would end up as a 50-50 holding between Murdoch and Bertelsmann, rather than any other construction. We will hold on to Vox.”

Murdoch holds 49.9% of Vox and Bertelsmann a 24.9% stake. The third major shareholder is French pay TV group Canal Plus, which has indicated it could sell its stake to Murdoch. But Bertelsmann has the right of first purchase to Canal Plus’ Vox stake.

Murdoch was recently in Germany and said he wanted to revamp Vox, spending as much as DM700 million ($390 million) to boost the channel’s share of the market to around 10% from 3% now.

But Bertelsmann, which must approve any investment decision, has blocked Murdoch’s plans, fearing that Vox would become a rival to its leading RTL channel.