2 minute read
9 Nov 2017
12:32 am

Profits edge up for 21st Century Fox


Media-entertainment group 21st Century Fox said Wednesday profits edged higher in the past quarter, fueled by revenue growth in its television, cable networks and Hollywood film operations.

Net profit in the fiscal first quarter for September 30 was up four percent from a year ago at $855 million for the group controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his family.

Revenues were up eight percent to $7 billion in the period.

The report comes amid unconfirmed reports that the Murdoch family held talks to sell most of the media-entertainment giant to rival Disney.

According to the reports, the Murdochs had been in discussions to sell Fox’s movie and television studios and leave a media company tightly focused on news and sports.

Co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch declined to comment on those reports, citing the company’s “longstanding policy of not commenting on speculation about corporate activities.”

But he also added that Fox “has the required scale” to compete in the evolving media-entertainment sector.

The company’s cable network programming division which includes Fox News and an array of sports channels generated some $4.2 billion in revenues and $1.5 billion in operating profit, making it the largest segment.

Its filmed entertainment unit, which includes the Fox Hollywood studios, produced some $1.9 billion in revenue and $256 million in operating earnings.

The profits from film fell from a year ago when the company had revenues from TV licensing of its “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “The Martian,” with no comparable titles licensed in the current quarter.

The television division, which includes the over-the-air Fox broadcast network, accounted for $1.1 billion in revenue and $122 million in operating profit.

The results “demonstrate our strength in the dynamic global market for distinctive video brands and content, across both established distributors and new entrants,” said a statement from Rupert and his son Lachlan Murdoch, who share the role of executive chairman.

– Sky on hold –

The company said its plan to acquire the shares it does not already own in the British TV group Sky, which is being reviewed by UK regulators, is unlikely to close until mid-2018.

The tie-up with Sky — in which Fox currently holds a 39 percent share — could be closed by June 2018 “absent further delays,” the earnings statement said.

“We’re confident we’re going to get the deal done in the first half of next year,” Fox chief executive James Murdoch told a conference call. “We are engaged with regulators.”

Last month, British regulators said they would assess Rupert Murdoch’s influence on the country’s political landscape as part of their investigation.

Fox was formed by the 2013 breakup of Murdoch’s News Corp into two separate firms as part of a plan to “unlock value” for shareholders. The News Corp name was retained for the company which operates newspapers around the world including the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch, 86, began a gradual withdrawal from both companies in 2013, and now shares the title of chairman with his eldest son Lachlan at both firms. His other son James Murdoch is CEO at Fox and is chairman at Sky.