SO THAT’S WHY NEWS CORP SPLIT
In June last year, Reuters reported that “The possibility of breaking up News Corp has been under discussion for a ‘considerable period of time’ but no final decision has been made”. Investors had been badgering Rupe, ever since the phone hacking story broke, to split off the newspaper business, but Murdoch, a press man at heart, had resisted. Then something happened to help change his mind.
That event was the Leveson Inquiry, and, it seems, the testimony of Sue Akers, who related that the Met had “sought legal advice and in respect of both individual and corporate offences” [emphasis deliberate]. This was reported by the excellent Brown Moses blog the month after it was revealed that News Corp may be about to have its newspaper interest split off.
And, as that blog pointed out, the Murdochs did not only have UK jurisdictions to worry about: there was potential trouble from the FBI in the USA, notably via the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), especially if any offences had taken place on US soil. Zelo Street first mentioned this possibility in July 2011 after Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads fame unearthed a Screws exclusive from January 2005.
This was the story of the Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie affair, which gave the impression either that someone had been given statements by one of the participants, or something rather less legal and above board had been happening. It wasn’t the only case: Ms Jolie’s former stunt double Eunice Huthart brought a civil case over alleged voicemail interception in June this year.
There are others: Jude Law may have had his phone hacked while on US soil, as may Julie Colbert, Stateside agent for Charlotte Church, and Ms Church’s publicist Kevin Chiaramonte. Strong hints were given that there were others, possibly including former Royal butler Paul Burrell and former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
All of which has clearly focused Rupe’s mind wonderfully, so much so that the split between the entertainment arm of his empire – now known as 20th Century Fox – and the newspaper part, retaining the News Corp name, finally happened at the end of June this year. The “new” News Corp started out with $2.6 billion in cash, most likely as cover for looming FCPA actions, and anything in the UK.
So when the Independent splashed “Exclusive: Met investigating Rupert Murdoch firm News International as 'corporate suspect' over hacking and bribing offences”, the deed had already been done. Most of Rupe’s dosh has already been split off, the “new” News Corp is nicely ring-fenced, and he can leave it to the wolves. There may be lawsuits, but wily old Rupe has once again got away with it.
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