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Rupe nears Liberty deal

News Corp. close to buyback of stake

Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday he is closing in on a deal to buy back Liberty Media’s stake in News Corp., which would drop its poison pill once the situation is settled.

Speaking to shareholders at the company’s former headquarters in Adelaide, Australia, Murdoch said an agreement with Liberty’s John Malone is “very likely.” The deal is widely expected to be a swap of News Corp.’s stake in satellite provider DirecTV for Malone’s 19% stake in News Corp.

The Liberty Media chief’s incursion several years ago — while News Corp. was shifting headquarters to the U.S. from Australia — caught Murdoch off guard. News Corp.’s board quickly adopted a so-called poison pill provision that makes a hostile takeover prohibitively expensive.

News Corp. shareholders narrowly approved an extension of the pill at the company’s annual meeting in New York last month.

“It’s now in place effectively from a month ago for the next three years,” Murdoch said. “I would say that if we settle the Liberty situation it’s very likely we’ll probably just drop it.”

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