Rupert Murdoch Confirms Foxtel Interest in Australia's Ten Network

Rupert & Lachlan Murdoch

The News Corp chair also described son and co-chair Lachlan as the man who will "lead us to a very prosperous and bright future"

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch confirmed that the company is looking at buying a stake in Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings, through its local pay-TV subsidiary Foxtel.

Speaking to shareholders  at the 'new' News Corp’s first annual general meeting, held in Los Angeles on Friday, Murdoch said the independent directors of News Corp have hired independent advisors to look at a potential acquisition.

The directors are trying to avoid any governance issues as Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan, who is also co-chair of News Corp, holds a stake in Ten via his private investment company, Illyria Ltd. Lachlan Murdoch was executive chairman at Ten before he re-joined News Corp earlier this year.

 “As for Foxtel, which is a partnership with Telstra, they are examining a small piece. I can say the independent directors here are hiring independent advisors,” Murdoch said.

He assured shareholders that Foxtel would not purchase Illyria’s stake in Ten.

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“At this stage, and in any future stage, there is no suggestion of them buying Lachlan’s shares,” he said.

However Murdoch did not address reports that Discovery Communications would be part of a joint bid for the Ten with Foxtel. Under existing cross media laws Foxtel could acquire up to 14.9 percent of Ten, Australia’s third largest commercial broadcaster.

Ten confirmed on Nov. 6 that it had appointed advisers from investment bank Citi to examine “strategic options” for the network. Since then a number of other potential suitors have emerged including Time Warner and U.S. private equity group US private equity giant Hellman & Friedman, according to reports.

Ten management met representatives from Foxtel and Discovery on Tuesday according to the Australian Financial Review which first broke the story.

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Also at the meeting Murdoch pointed to his eldest son as his successor at News Corp.  

“It is a very special thing to be fortunate enough to work side-by-side with Lachlan who has proven himself to be a talented and successful executive in his own right here and in Australia and will lead us to a very prosperous and bright future,” Murdoch said of Lachlan, who is also co-chair of 21st Century Fox .

“I am confident as you get to know him better you will share my and the board’s belief that we could not have found a more passionate and committed chairman,” he said.