ADELAIDE, Australia: Media magnate Rupert Murdoch was in upbeat mood when he spoke to investors in his Australian home city. Although the advertising market in the US, UK and Australia is basically flat, he believes the News Corporation empire will still achieve annual operating profit growth of between 14% and 16%.

He assured assembled shareholders that negotiations with John Malone and Liberty Media over the latter's 19% stake in NewsCorp were progressing and that a deal is "very likely". A view that echoes sentiments expressed last week by his lieutenant Peter Chernin [WARC News: 10-Nov-06].

And referencing Australia's imminent relaxation of media ownership rules, Murdoch said he could "quickly" increase NewsCorp's current 7.5% stake in newspaper publisher John Fairfax Holdings to make it "difficult" for a rival or a private equity group to take control.

Murdoch himself cannot acquire Fairfax because his Australian media interests already dominate the nation's marketplace. He is interested, however, in the company's internet assets and keen to have a presence on its board.

Data sourced from Dow Jones/MarketWatch; additional content by WARC staff