Rupert Murdoch Signals Interest in Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune (Report)
UPDATED: Top News Corp. executives have had 'preliminary talks' about acquiring flagship newspapers from Tribune Co., according to a report.
Updated: News Corp. issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday denying reports that the company had early talks with debt holders about acquiring The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune from the Tribune Co.
"Reports that News Corporation is in discussions with Tribune or the LA Times are wholly inaccurate," a company spokesperson said.
For the second time in a week, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has been reported to be interested in acquiring The Los Angeles Times from the Tribune Co. as it emerges from bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal, the flagship newspaper of News Corp., published an article stating that Murdoch was "expected to pursue acquisitions of distressed newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times" when the company spins off its publishing properties early next year.
In June, in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the new-shuttered News of the World, News Corp. announced it was splitting itself into two companies -- with entertainment properties like Fox News, 20th Century Fox TV and 20th Century Fox film studio separated from newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Times of London.
Insiders cited by the Times say the paper "could fetch as much as $400 million." The Times also states that the paper has other suitors: Aaron Kushner -- who recently purchased the Orange County Register, then hired dozens of staffers and doubled down on its print business -- is interested in the paper, as is former deputy mayor and ex-venture capitalist Austin Beutner.
Conservative real estate developer Doug Manchester -- who recently purchased the U-T San Diego newspaper and its long-time rival, the North County Times -- has also very recently expressed his desire to buy Tribune Co. properties.
In a June interview with the Journal after the spin-off news, Rupert Murdoch was said to have "long eyed titles such as the Los Angeles Times" but also "played down his interest in the paper, saying it would have to be looked at 'closely,' citing regulatory restrictions, among other things."
The Los Angeles Times spelled out what those potential regulatory restrictions would be, noting that News Corp. owns two Fox stations in Los Angeles and that FCC rules "prevent owners from owning a newspaper and TV stations in the same market."