Even bad news is good news for Rupert Murdoch

New York, U.S. - September 10, 2017 - Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of Fox News Channel stands before Rafael Nadal of Spain plays against Kevin Anderson of South Africa. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) - A remarkable thing about Rupert Murdoch is that the wily media mogul makes out OK even when his plans fall apart. Despite abandoning the idea to recombine his Fox (FOXA.O) and News Corp (NWSA.O) empires, simply proposing and studying the idea helped uncover some hidden value. In any case, he’s likely try to unite them again someday anyhow.

Murdoch’s plan to unite the $18 billion TV company with the $12 billion publisher of the Wall Street Journal endured significant pushback, and the logic of a merger doesn’t stack up. In the process, however, investors came to appreciate News Corp’s online real estate portals and other aspects of the business a little better. Its shares are up by nearly a third since the two companies formed special board committees in October to evaluate a deal.

Instead, News Corp looks poised to sell Move, owner of Realtor.com and other similar sites. The next step could be to spin off its Australia peer REA (REA.AX). It would help streamline the company and crystallize its worth. Both Fox and News Corp conceded on Tuesday that a merger wasn’t a good idea for shareholders “at this time.” It suggests that Murdoch, who tends to get his way, will eventually try again. (By Jeffrey Goldfarb)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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