June 28th, 2012
07:19 PM GMT
Editor's note: David Buik has spent almost 50 years in the City of London, as an investment banker and broker. He is a partner at BGC Partners and a frequent media commentator on financial matters.
CNN – He may be an octogenarian but anyone who underestimates Rupert Murdoch’s business cunning and prowess does so at his or her peril.
He is probably at his most dangerous when his back is against the wall.
I enjoyed his interrogation at the Leveson inquiry and he was in imperious form when being interviewed Wednesday in the U.S. on his plans and aspirations for his media and publishing enterprises. As the old expression goes: “There’s life in the old dog yet!”
"Uncle Ru" has been deeply and irrevocably in love with newspapers since he left his mother’s womb and under the watchful eye of his father, Sir Keith, he cut his teeth on all journalistic branding irons.
Over the years he has built up a newspaper empire in mainly in Australia, the U.S. and the UK - with terrific brands such as The Australian, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun to name just the better known of them.
Murdoch has always been driven by his ability to bring political influence to bear in all the countries that he owns papers.
They have never been a hugely profitable investment, but the pleasure and enjoyment that he has gleaned from this enterprise knows no bounds. In the UK the influence he had with Baroness Thatcher and Tony Blair was very significant and there is no doubt that The Sun was the most influential newspaper in News Corporation’s portfolio.
Then of course came the sad phone-hacking saga. This has been a severe wake up call for Murdoch. He underestimated the damage this hacking has had on his empire and it provided a magnificent springboard for peer operations in the UK media - particularly the BBC, The Guardian, and The Independent to vent their spleen in a most visceral manner.
The decision to split the News Corporation empire into two is understandable and has been endorsed by the main shareholders.
The entertainment arm, with 20th Century, Fox TV, Star TV and a 39% stake in BSkyB, contributes 90% of the profit. This must be protected from the U.S. authorities' clutches.
Newspapers chip in with the balance. It is likely that the CEO of the publishing division will not be a Murdoch. James Murdoch will run entertainment and many would be very surprised if his father did not maintain a 40% stake in both companies. Investors seem to approve of this initiative.
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