As the head of the UK’s largest independent TV production company, Elisabeth Murdoch couldn’t join her father Rupert or brothers James and Lachlan on the News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). board of directors. As the head of a News Corp. property, not a problem. Pending regulatory approval, News Corp. finally has a deal to buy Murdoch’s Shine Group for $672.5 million (£415 million). My understanding is the deal is supposed to be all cash, with the usual assumption of debt and liabilities.
The acquisition — called an “agreement in principal” for now — is widely seen as a way for Rupert Murdoch to get the last of his possible successors from within the family on the board. Liz, as she is known, would be the fourth Murdoch on the board of the family-controlled public company and only the second woman; currently there are 16 men and Natalie Bancroft (the sole survivor of the Dow Jones acquisition.) Brother James heads Europe and Asia plus News Int.; Lachlan left the company for his own pursuits in Australia.
What else will News Corp. get for its money? By nearly every account, a highly successful, profitable production company with global distribution, a multi-platform focus and hit shows. Shine acquired Ben Silverman’s Reveille in 2008 after he went to NBC.
Elisabeth Murdoch founded Shine in 2001, a year after leaving News Corp. to strike out on her own. According to a MediaGuardian profile, she owns more than 60 percent; other major shareholders include Sky (majority owned by News Corp.) holds 13 percent and Sony (NYSE: SNE) has 20 percent.
Shine’s several constituent companies produce some of the UK’s most-watched and most exportable TV shows, like Merlin, Masterchef, Spooks and Hustle.
It’s mostly straight-up TV fare. Back in 2009, Shine attempted to create a new online arm, Shine Vu, to make original interactive productions. It hired Joanna Shields, who had commissioned online-only drama whilst at Bebo, and Digby Lewis, who had won entertainment rights whilst at Dailymotion, as execs to get it going.
Corrected: Digby Lewis remains Shine Vu’s director of content and digital. It has produced MasterChef Academy iOS app, multiplatform accompaniments for the BBC’s The Magicians and a factual video series, Well I Never, for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) – the company just doesn’t list them in its web portfolio.