Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is preparing to bite the bullet and spend nearly $4 billion (€3bn, £2bn) to keep control of the News Corporation empire in the family.

He is currently negotiating a deal with US-based Liberty Media under which he would buy most of the potential 17% voting stake in NewsCorp on which John Malone's cable company has acquired options. Although nothing has been finalised, Liberty ceo Bob Bennett concedes: "There have been some conversations."

These conversations would allow Malone to avoid $1.2 billion in capital gains tax as part of the deal, and require Murdoch to dip into NewsCorp coffers to pay in cash.

Murdoch's apparent willingness to talk turkey stems from Malone's deal with investment banker Merrill Lynch that allows him to convert his large non-voting stake in NewsCorp to voting shares - a move that would increase his 9% of the votes to a challenging 17%. [WAMN: 10-Nov-2004]. The Murdochs own 12.6% and have 29.5% of the voting rights.

The Australian-born tycoon is fiercely protective of the 'family' business, which has so far declined to comment on the negotiations.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff