News Corp (NYSE: NWS) has been mulling selling off part or all of prized revenue-making digital ad unit Fox Audience Network for a long time now, and it is finally making the move, we have confirmed. The company has gone around the block with this idea for almost 8-10 months, our sources say, mainly because of the complications in separating the online ad network from MySpace and other properties; News Corp.’s digital properties are the biggest component of FAN’s network, and selling it off (or even an IPO, a possibility that has also been mulled internally, but shelved later) would put a majority of MySpace ad network revenues in the hands of a third-party owner. One senior source I spoke to last week put it thusly: “it is like Google (NSDQ: GOOG) selling off AdWords.” The news was first published 30 minutes ago by Techcrunch.
At one point a few months ago, we had heard that the company had retained J P Morgan to figure out the spinoff. But later, it turned out they started on the project internally under Jack Kennedy, who is the EVP of ops, and Jorge Espinel, EVP of corp dev, under News Corp. Digital Media Group, the current version of FIM under Jon Miller). Among the options being considered: an outright sale, or a spinoff with a PE firm taking a majority, and News Corp retaining a stake, similar to the deals it has done with Photobucket and RottenTomatoes. (A News Corp. spokesman said the company wouldn’t be commenting.)
FAN, headed by Adam Bain and based in Santa Monica, is what became of Strategic Data Corp, the online ad targeting company FIM bought in 2007. It had about $100 million in revenues last we heard, which is around the amount it was bought for as well.