Rupert Murdoch's media empire is weighing spinning off its less profitable publishing division
News Corporation confirmed reports Tuesday that it is considering splitting itself into two companies.
However, the company did not elaborate on how the cleaving would take place and which divisions would be impacted.
"News Corporation confirmed today that it is considering a restructuring to separate its business into two distinct publicly traded companies," the company said in a statement.
According to reports, News Corp. would spin off its publishing arm from its more profitable entertainment division.
Its publishing unit includes the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal and has long been seen as one of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's great passions and one he has resisted spinning off. But he may gradually be accepting the idea.
After all, the entertainment side of the business, which boasts Fox broadcasting network, Fox News and Twentieth Century Fox, is much larger and considered more key to the long-term success of the company.
A recent investigation into SEC filings by TheWrap revealed that News Corp.'s publishing arm was responsible for just 14.2 percent of the company's $4.85 billion in operating income last year.
Moreover, the publishing side of the business has created enormous headaches for sprawling News Corp. over the past year.
The company's U.K. tabloids have been the subject of criminal investigations, devastating news coverage and Parliamentary investigations after its paper, the News of the World, was implicated in illegal phone hacking and bribery.
The News of the World was shuttered last summer, but the company's legal headaches have not stopped. In its most recent quarter, News Corp. logged charges of $63 million in costs related to investigations into the hacking scandal. Media analysts have speculated that the total bill stemming from the legal costs and settlements could reach $1 billion.
Matthew Harrigan, an analyst for Wunderlich Securities, told TheWrap that spinning off the publishing unit will help inoculate the entertainment units from some of these legal costs.
"I think it's a good move," Harrigan said. "I imagine they'll try to work it in a way where they try to fund the liabilities in the U.K. off the publishing assets."
He argued that the television and movie units would be the big stock winners, but that the publishing company could perform well if Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal parent company News Corp. bought in 2007, can figure out a way to make paywalls profitable.
In the wake of the company's statement about the split, News Corp. shares rose 6.26 percent on Tuesday morning to $21.55.
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