Saudi Prince Underpins Murdoch’s Grip on NewsCorp

19 November 2004

Maybe cable entrepreneur John C Malone should put on hold any ideas he may have about building a hostile stake in News Corporation [WAMN 17-Nov-04].

Malone is one of a small elite that has both the guts and the means to mix it with the House of Murdoch - but does he have the testosterone to take on the House of Saud - and by association the House of Bush - as well?

The latest twist in the battle of the tycoonosaurs is the intervention of NewsCorp shareholder His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin AbdulAziz Alsaud, a three percent non-voting shareholder - estimated stock value $1 billion (€767.4m; £538.2m).

Prince Al also has a few billion bucks more stashed away in corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Citigroup, Apple Computer, Motorola, AOL Time Warner, Saks, EuroDisney and the Walt Disney Company.

It seems that Al is not eager to see Malone displace the clan Murdoch as NewsCorp's controlling shareholder, and has vowed to block any bid from that source. Should it materialise, he will convert his non-voting NewsCorp stake into voting stock and acquire additional shares.

Explained the oil royal to the Financial Times: "The idea is that if the need arises, we will act to keep NewsCorp independent under the leadership of Mr Murdoch and convert our stock to a voting stake and take whatever additional stake is needed … I want to be sure Mr Murdoch and his family and the directors understand I'm ready to assist."

In a world where gratitude is now as rare as an undiscovered oilfield, it's good to see a favour repaid - as viewers and readers of NewsCorp media will be the first to realise.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff