Keith Rupert Murdoch, the venerable shopaholic chairman/ceo of News Corporation, last week summoned to the company's New York-headquarters a phalanx of senior lieutenants from across the planet.

The gathering in the Avenue of the Americas was called primarily to discuss budgets. But it emerged yesterday that there was one other item on the agenda, so an anonymous insider told the Financial Times. A sermon from the mount on global investment and acquisition opportunities.

Revealed the mole: "He wants more revenue and cash flow to come from international. The company is looking to Europe and StarTV in Asia and the international channels business to drive part of that."

Currently topping the Murdoch shopping list are several outdoor advertising companies in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, with some of the required roubles kindly supplied by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. An announcement is expected before the end of June..

Other than the loquacious mole, attendees at the meeting declined to comment. Among their number were Les Hinton, chairman of UK newspaper publishing division News International, and Tom Mockridge, head of the Sky Italia pay-TV unit.

Meantime, the compelling battle of wits continues between Murdoch senior and his equally sapient opponent, the group's second largest shareholder, John C Malone. The latter holds around 19% of the company, making him an agonizing thorn in the side of the Murdoch family which between them command 29%.

The fascination lies in guessing the subtext underlying Malone's painstakingly built holding - and in the defensive manoeuvrings of clan Murdoch. Pending an outcome, the name of the game is 'Spend (or Borrow) It While You Can'!

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