It’s too early to know if there was any connection between Rupert Murdoch’s deposition in the Dominion case and days later pulling a massive plan to recombine News Corp. and Fox Corp., but the timing of this withdrawal is certainly interesting.
It was recently reported that special committees inside News Corp. and Fox Corp. were expected to “give the green light to the deal this month,” and the clear assumption was that shareholders would soon be prompted to vote. But now, it’s official — Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch are abandoning plans to recombine News Corp. and Fox Corp. From The New York Times:
News Corp, one of Mr. Murdoch’s media companies, said in a statement on Tuesday that he had determined that combining it and the Fox Corporation was “not optimal for shareholders of News Corp and Fox at this time.”
The boards of both media companies disclosed in October that Mr. Murdoch had proposed reuniting the two companies, nearly 10 years after they split up.
Both Fox and News Corp established independent committees of their boards to evaluate a possible deal. But the prospect faced significant investor pushback.
The announcement that the deal is now off comes just days after Rupert Murdoch was deposed as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation case regarding false claims aired on Fox News regarding the 2020 election. Murdoch’s deposition was originally scheduled for early December before being rescheduled for January 19 and 20.
There has not been much reporting yet about what happened in the deposition (NPR’s David Folkenflik lays out an overview here), much less the details of what ultimately brought down the planned merger (investor pushback has been baked into the deal for months). But given the severity of the Dominion case and Fox’s apparent legal exposure, it’s worth paying attention to what does eventually come out about Murdoch’s deposition.