News Corp. Sells Stake in Rival Aussi Newspaper Company Fairfax

By: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has sold its entire 7.5 percent stake in rival Australian company Fairfax Media for about 380 million Australian dollars ($312 million), both companies said Monday.

Reasons for the sale were not given, but it comes less than a week after Murdoch launched a $5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, in an effort to expand his global media empire in the United States.

Fairfax chairman Ron Walker said News Corp. had informed the company that it had sold its 75 million shares at 5.07 Australian dollars each. News confirmed the sale, without giving reasons.

Fairfax shares fell 2.66 percent Monday to close at 5.13 Australian dollars.

News Corp. purchased the stake in Fairfax - which publishes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review - in October last year, describing it as a strategic and friendly investment.

Analysts speculated Australian-born Murdoch wanted a seat at the table in any split-up of Fairfax following changes to Australia's media ownership laws last month.

Analysts said he may have had his eye on the Australian Financial Review to add to his existing newspaper titles in Australia, which include Melbourne's Herald Sun and the national Australian newspaper.

Murdoch last week said News Corp. had made the $60-a-share offer for Dow Jones & Co., a bid that has been met opposition from key shareholders, including controlling shareholder the Bancroft family.


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