The News Corp and News Corp’s Australian arm have been linked in recent days to a new company which will be incorporated as part of the parent company’s bid to take control of News Corp newspapers and other assets.
News Corp chief executive Andrew Barron and News Corporation chief financial officer Mike Scully have both been named to a panel advising on the proposed deal, which was revealed on Wednesday.
The News Group is in the process of securing a licence from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to own newspapers in the country, including some of the major national titles in the United States and New Zealand.
In a letter to shareholders last month, News Corp chairman and CEO Steve Ballmer said the company would “take all reasonable steps” to stop “any actions that undermine the integrity of the News Group, including through actions that would interfere with or impede the operation of News Australia’s operations”.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has been in talks with News Corp about the proposed takeover.
ASIC chairman Rod Sims told the ABC last month the regulator was “looking into this very closely” and would have “some discussions with the board”.
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot of discussions with you as we continue to work on it,” he said.
Under the proposed agreement, the new company would operate under the News Corp umbrella, but would be owned by News Corp itself.
The deal would also mean News Corp will retain control over the Australian newspaper industry.
The company would be able to retain its media brands, including the iconic News Corp-owned Australian Financial Review, as well as a number of Australian-based newspapers, including The Australian and The Australian Financial News.
The ABC understands that the News of the World has been the target of a range of inquiries by ASIC, the Competition and Australian Consumer Commission and other regulatory bodies since the company was founded in 1996.
The Murdoch-owned newspaper was found to have engaged in a widespread and ongoing criminal conspiracy to influence the election in favour of Labor Party leader Bill Shorten in 2015.
At least four people have died as a result of the publication of a series of damaging stories about Mr Shorten.
Ms Buckley told the Senate last month that the government was considering the sale of some of its media assets in a bid to help the country deal with the fallout of the 2016 election.
“In the future, we will look at options to divest from the News Corporation newspapers and properties,” she said.
“That is one of the options that we will be exploring.”
Mr Ballmer has said the News News Group would be “a new and better news organisation”.
Ms Scully told the Australian Financial Press on Wednesday the News Australia business was “absolutely the right place to be”.
News of the Week, the News Australian, has not been included in the takeover.
Ms Buckley said Ms Scully had been asked to provide an update on the progress of the talks with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
“She is in close touch with our compliance and compliance oversight team, so that’s very encouraging,” she told the Financial Press.
Mr Barron and Mr Scully have been named as directors of the new News Group by News Corporation, with the latter two confirmed as senior executives by News Limited.
They will also have a say in the governance structure of the company.
Under the takeover, the sale would mean News Ltd would retain control of the Australian newspapers industry.
A spokesperson for News Corporation said the group had not been contacted by ASIC.
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