NEW YORK: The seemingly interminable and delicate negotiations between media barons Rupert Murdoch and John Malone over the latter's contentious stake in the former's News Corporation empire appear to have reached a successful conclusion.
According to reports in the New York Times, the pair have struck a deal that will see Malone's Liberty Media exchange its $11 billion (€8.2bn; £5.5bn) voting shares in NewsCorp for Murdoch's prized controlling state in US satellite service DirecTV plus other goodies.
Liberty ceo Greg Maffei was unwilling to offer a time frame for the ink to dry on the deal, but other 'insiders' claim an agreement is expected to be signed and announced before the Christmas holiday.
The buyback of Malone's shares will increase Clan Murdoch's voting stake in NewsCorp to around 36% from its present 29.5%.
The family invoked a controversial 'poison pill' defense when Malone acquired his extra shares two years ago [WARC News: 12-Nov-04], a move it has since been trying to justify to other NewsCorp shareholders.
DirecTV is the largest satellite broadcaster in the US, with 15.5 million subscribers and another 1.7m in South America. It was bought from the Hughes Electronics unit of General Motors in 2003.
Data sourced from multichannel.com and New York Times; additional content by WARC staff