Having ditched its bid for the chunk of BSkyB it does not own, News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and COO Chase Carey both said last night that the company will actively pursue other acquisitions.
Analysts estimated that the media giant would, at its current rate of growth, have a war chest of US$20 billion (€14 billion) within the next three years.
“We are a growth company and believe there are some exciting opportunities for us to add real value to our core businesses,” Carey said. He added, however, that investments are likely to be “modest” and in the “tens or hundreds of millions, not billions.”
Rupert Murdoch added: “We’re not saying something won’t come along that might be $1 billion, but we don’t see anything, and we certainly don’t see any really big things like we were, sort of like with BSkyB. We don’t have any prospects or anything like that.”
Amid investor concern about succession plans at News Corp, Murdoch also confirmed publicly for the first time that Carey would take over should anything happen to him. “Chase is my partner, if anything happens to me, I’m sure he’ll get it immediately if I went under a bus,” he said. “But Chase and I have full confidence in James. But I think that’s all I need to say about it. But in the end, the succession is a matter for the board.”
The company shrugged off the effects of the ongoing phone-hacking scandal in the UK and posted strong full-year results.
News’ international pay TV channels performed particularly well, registering a 20% increase in annual affiliate fees, driven by the FIC channels in Latin America and Asia. Full-year ad revenue at the international channels was up 22% year-on-year.
Overall annual revenue came in at US$33.4 billion compared with US$32.8 billion a year earlier. The company recorded a full year profit of US$4.9 billion compared US$4 billion in the previous twelve months.
Speaking about its cable channels, Carey highlighted the strong performance of FX in the US and potential of Nat Geo following the appointment of David Lyle as CEO earlier this month. “FX is setting ratings records quarter after quarter and we have new leadership to build the untapped potential of National Geographic,” he said.