Rupert Murdoch exits China with sale of Star China TV stake
03 January 2014
Global media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Group is retreating from China, selling its 47-per cent stake in Chinese television company Star China TV, leaving behind Murdoch's unfulfilled ambition of expanding his media empire in the country's emerging entertainment market.
Murdoch's pursuit which began in 1993 had been stuck by stringent Chinese regulations on foreign investment and censorship.
Star China TV, formed in 2010 as a joint venture with majority stake owned by private equity firm China Media Capital (CMC) with a 53-per cent stake, operates three 24-hour channels in Mandarin language: Xing Kong, Xing Kong International and Channel [V] Mainland China, besides operating a Chinese movie library.
CMC has agreed to buy 21st Century Fox's 47-per cent stake. Although financial details of the transaction have not been revealed, analysts estimate it is worth around $150 million.
James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son who is the deputy chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox said, ''Today's divestment underscores our broader agenda of streamlining our affiliate ownership structures.''
In June 2013, Rupert Murdoch split his media empire News Corp, separating its struggling publishing business and highly profitable entertainment media business into two new entities - the new News Corp and 21st Century Fox. He remains the chief of both the companies. (See: News Corp's board okays splitting news and entertainment businesses).
21st Century Fox includes Fox broadcasting, Twentieth Century Fox film and TV, Fox News, sports, business and international channels, Star, The National Geographic channels, BSkyB, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, etc.
CMC chairman Ruigang Li said in a statement,l ''This latest transaction marks a new era for Star China and we remain committed to building the company into one of the most respected entertainment companies in China."
"As our respective businesses continue to evolve, we look forward to more opportunities to work together going forward," Ruigang Li further stated.
Further to the transaction, the existing management team will remain in place in Star China.
Interestingly, Murdoch's Chinese exit came just weeks after the media mogul divorced his Chinese wife Wendy Deng after 14 years of married life.
Wendy was working at Star China TV as an executive when Murdoch met her in 1999.