On Liberalization Eve, Takeover Fever Seizes Oz Media Barons

04 April 2007

SYDNEY: Much scurrying in the money ant-hills Down Under, as media magnates this week seek to consolidate their bridgeheads in advance of the Australian government's liberalization of media ownership rules.

  • Clan Murdoch is inevitably to the fore, with NewsCorp-owned News Limited's acquisition of Federal Publishing Company's newspaper, magazine and online empire. Unusually for such a deal, no-one has publicly mentioned anything as vulgar as money!

    Gloats News Ltd chairman/ceo John Hartigan: "It transforms News into one of Australia's largest magazine publishers and further strengthens our position as [the nation's] largest and most successful publisher of community newspapers."

  • Voracious Macquarie Media Group, meantime, is planning a full takeover of Southern Cross Broadcasting and is expected to pounce on the regional media group this week, when the ownership laws change. MMG is already sitting astride a 13.8% stake in the A$1.2 billion (US$975.7m; €730.2m; £493.3m) company.

  • Fairfax Media has agreed to sell two free weekly newspapers in the Hunter region to ease the concerns of the competition regulator ahead of a vote this week on its $2.9 billion acquisition of Rural Press.

    The disposals represent less than 1% of Fairfax's total revenues and earnings and their sale is not expected to be "financially material" to the company.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff