Murdochs to Host New York Event With Indian Prime Minister

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi - H 2015
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Narendra Modi also will participate in a town hall meeting at Facebook's headquarters and is believed to be meeting leaders of other Silicon Valley companies.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with top executives from 21st Century Fox, News Corp and other companies at a New York gathering later this week hosted by Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch.

Sources confirmed the meeting, which Indian newspaper The Hindu had reported.

Uday Shankar, CEO of Fox’s Star India unit, and News Corp CEO Robert Thomson will be in attendance along with a small group of peers from media and entertainment companies, according to one source. It wasn't immediately clear who the other attendees would be. Fox executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch was originally planning to attend as a host as well, but will not be in town for the gathering. James Murdoch met with Modi in New Delhi earlier this year.

It also wasn't clear what topics would be raised at the meeting and on what day during Modi's weeklong U.S. visit it would take place. He is expected to land in the U.S. on Thursday and has announced West Coast meetings for early next week.

Fox has focused on investing in its Indian TV business Star India, which has been a key growth driver for the conglomerate. “The top opportunity continues to be international, led by Star,” Fox CFO John Nallen told a recent investor conference. “Star clearly is going to lead a lot of our international growth.”

The company has said it expects the Indian unit to continue to grow and contribute $500 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2018. Nallen said at the recent conference that the growth was coming from two factors: “One is continued growth of the entertainment business, which was the hallmark of the Star business,” he said. “The second leg is the sports business where…the big investment cycle is behind us. In years going forward, we have lumpy years because of World Cup cricket being…sort of like World Cup [soccer]. But, that won't interfere with us hitting our target.”
During his U.S. trip, Modi also will meet with representatives of Silicon Valley giant Facebook and is expected to meet with Google, including new CEO Sundar Pichai, and Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to India Today. Facebook has confirmed the meeting.

“I’m excited to announce that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India will be visiting Facebook HQ later this month for a Townhall Q&A,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post earlier this month. “Prime Minister Modi and I will discuss how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges…. The event will be on Sunday, September 27 at 9:30 a.m. pacific time.”

Modi said on Facebook: “I thank Mr. Mark Zuckerberg for the invite to visit the Facebook HQ.… The interaction will cover a wide range of issues and will surely be a memorable one.”

On Sunday, he added: “I will also see some recent technological innovations at the Google (Alphabet) campus and Tesla Motors.” And he said: “It would be after a gap of almost 33 years that an Indian PM would be visiting the west coast — the home of start-ups, innovation and technology.”