News Corp gives publishing company $2.6 billion in cash

Fri Mar 8, 2013 3:53pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker and Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp will start its largely print-based publishing company with no debt and $2.6 billion in cash when it completes the spinoff.

The amount of cash and debt, which analysts generally expected, gives the publishing company a purse to buy other assets should it choose. News Corp released the details in a regulatory filing on Friday.

"You can never count out Murdoch when it comes to buying companies," said Gabelli & Co analyst Brett Harriss.

News Corp said in the filing the publishing company's assets are worth $18.6 billion, which includes newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and Times of London, book publisher HarperCollins and its ownership stake in other assets such as Australian pay-TV company Foxtel.

Media businesses, especially anything related to print, are going through major ownership changes. Tribune Co is exploring the sale of its newspaper assets, which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Time Warner Inc is spinning off Time Inc, home to magazines Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and its eponymous newsweekly.

Analysts estimate that Time Inc, which is expected to become a stand-alone public company at the end of the year, will be worth about $2 billion to $3 billion.

News Corp's publishing operations "certainly have the fire power to buy Time Inc," Harriss said.

News Corp declined to comment on acquisition opportunities.   Continued...

Passers-by walk near the News Corporation building in New York June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford