News Corp., LinkedIn not in talks, source says

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NEW YORK -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is not holding takeover discussions with LinkedIn, a fast-growing online social network for professionals, a source familiar with the matter said Monday.

The source shot down British media reports that the two were discussing a deal worth about $1 billion. The two companies had been in talks for possible future partnerships, the source added.

News Corp. and LinkedIn declined comment.

At first glance, a deal could make sense. LinkedIn could provide the technology and service underpinnings to connect the business-world readers of Dow Jones publications if Murdoch's $5.6 billion deal for the publisher of the Wall Street Journal closes this year.

"Strategically, it would be a great fit," Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto told the Reuters Media Summit last week. Whether it makes financial sense hinges on price, he said.

A deal would also satisfy Murdoch's instincts to exploit fast-moving opportunities before they peak. News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005 before the hangout for teenagers exploded to become the world's largest social network.

LinkedIn, the sixth-biggest U.S. social network, logged the biggest growth among its peers in October and topped the expansion rates of the larger MySpace and Facebook, according to Nielsen. LinkedIn attracted about 5 million U.S. visitors in October, up from 1.7 million a year earlier.

News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media division, which oversees MySpace, may already be moving to serve the business world.

FIM President Peter Levinsohn said at the Reuters Summit last week that MySpace plans to let its users create different profiles to attract different contacts, such as personal friends, business contacts or family members.

LinkedIn executives said in published reports last month that the company aims to build a longer-term business with an eye toward a possible initial public offering. A Fortune magazine blog quoted LinkedIn chief executive Dan Nye as saying it would take an offer of much more than $1 billion for him to sell the company.
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