ambitions may take center stage in Sun Valley
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[July 01, 2014]
By Ronald Grover
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
Rupert Murdoch jets into Idaho's Sun Valley next week
for the year's most exclusive tech and media industry
gathering, armed with both the money and the appetite
for a major deal.
The 83-year-old Twenty-First Century Fox Inc chief executive
officer, a regular at investment bank Allen & Co's annual gathering,
is in the midst of a deal that would give Fox the firepower to buy a
Fox's 39 percent-owned British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc is
negotiating to buy Fox's Sky Italia and its Sky Deutschland
subsidiary in a deal that could net Fox as much as $13 billion.
"He's got the capital, resources and credibility to do a deal," said
Mark Boidman, managing director of investment bank Peter J. Solomon
Company, who is not attending the conference. "He's in a good
position to know what to go after and when to do it."
Sun Valley will be teeming with CEOs whose companies might fit the
bill. Among expected attendees are Time Warner Inc CEO Jeff Bewkes
and Viacom Inc CEO Philippe Dauman.
Murdoch's interest in Time Warner despite its $62 billion market
value has been the subject of industry speculation. He still covets
the owner of HBO, among other potential targets, according to a
former News Corp employee told by executives recently about
The source did not know if Murdoch had made an approach. Time Warner
spokesman Keith Cocozza and Fox spokesman Nathaniel Brown declined
"I'm not sure he could afford it, but you never want to say that
about Rupert Murdoch," said former Viacom President Frank Biondi, an
Allen & Co regular who is not going this year.
Some of the highest-profile chieftains in media and technology, from
Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg to Apple Inc's Tim Cook, gather at
Sun Valley each year.
The conference generated deal discussions in the past. Comcast Corp
CEO Brian Roberts discussed NBC with General Electric Co CEO Jeff
Immelt one year. Biondi says he began talks to sell Madison Square
Garden to John Malone's Liberty Media Corp there, but the deal fell
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Murdoch will be accompanied by sons Lachlan and James. Earlier this
year, the elder Murdoch elevated Lachlan to non-executive
co-chairman and James to co-chief operating officer. James has been
especially interested in acquisitions, said a former top executive
at News Corp familiar with their thinking.
Murdoch will not be the only acquisition-minded executive in Sun
Valley next week.
Discovery Communications Inc CEO David Zaslav, whose company in May
bought control of European sports TV programmer Eurosport, will be
So will Liberty Global Plc CEO Mike Fries, whose company and
Discovery are negotiating to buy a stake in Formula One racing.
(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine; Edited by Edwin Chan
and Lisa Shumaker)
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