News Corp to Sell Video Advertising Firm Unruly in Stock Deal

Rebekah Brooks Headshot - H 2015
Courtesy of Arthur Edwards

Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News Corp's News U.K. unit, will join the board of buyer Tremor International.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp said Monday that it has agreed to sell London-based programmatic video advertising platform Unruly to Israel-based, London-listed Tremor International.

News Corp will not get any cash, but a 6.91 percent stake in Tremor under the proposed deal. Tremor's market capitalization stood at around 277 million pounds ($363 million) as of Monday, which would value News Corp's stake at around 19 million pounds, or $25 million. 

Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News Corp's News U.K. unit, is scheduled to join the Tremor board as a non-executive director, as Tremor has been reporting to her. It would be her first seat on the board of a public company. Brooks four years ago returned to News Corp after having stepped down from her company roles in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in 2011. Norman Johnston, CEO of Unruly, is also expected to join the board. 

Tremor said it also struck a global partnership with News Corp that will "equip Tremor with the exclusive right to sell outstream video on more than 50 News Corp titles in the U.K., U.S. and Australia." The firm is also committing to an ad spend of £30 million ($39 million) with News Corp over a three-year period as part of the agreement.

Unruly, founded in 2006, says it has more than 1.2 billion unique monthly views on its ads. News Corp in 2015 struck a deal for the company that included a cash payment of about 58 million pounds, or $90 million, plus up to 56 million pounds, or $86 million, "in future consideration primarily related to payments contingent upon the achievement of certain performance objectives." 

"The sale of Unruly marks an important step in our strategy of simplification at News Corp, while we expect it to yield ongoing financial benefits," said News Corp Robert Thomson. "We look forward to partnering with Tremor and are grateful to Unruly and its truly talented team, who have helped our businesses in the U.K., U.S. and Australia advance their digital advertising expertise."

Added Johnston: "Unruly will immediately benefit from Tremor's wide range of formats, including advanced TV and in-app, as well as an analytics suite and yield optimization tools. Together we'll bring the power of emotions to video advertising to drive better results for advertisers, higher levels of engagement for consumers and more revenue for publishers."

Said Ofer Druker, CEO of Tremor: "This transaction is another important milestone in Tremor's transformation into a leading video advertising business. We are delighted to be acquiring a truly world-class asset in Unruly, but equally important is the formation of our new strategic alliance with News Corp, which will provide Tremor access to globally recognized media brands, in a partnership we believe to be mutually beneficial for both companies.