Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday that he will remain as chairman and chief executive officer of The News Corp. and that he has no interest in selling off any part of his publishing business. In the company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Murdoch said in an opening statement that, “The board and I believe I should continue in my current role.”
When asked by an investor if the scandal and closing of The News of the World had given Murdoch any pause about whether or not to sell his prized possession, the newspapers in the company, he defiantly said no. “I’m feeling very confident,” he said, adding that “everything is fine” and that the phone hacking scandal was limited to “one small corner.”
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Murdoch was also asked whether his son James, who is the ceo of his British operations News International, is still seen as a viable replacement for taking over the entire company down the line.
“I hope the job won’t be open in the near future,” said Murdoch, to riotous laughter of News Corp. executives. Murdoch said that chief operating officer Chase Carey is “my partner, and if anything would happen, I feel he would get it immediately.” Murdoch added that, “Chase and I have full confidence in James.”
Perhaps as an indication of how little interest Wall Street seems to have in the phone hacking scandal, nearly every question from investors was about another part of the company’s business — topics that ranged from stock buybacks to BSkyB and the Fox Business Channel. By the time reporters were invited onto the call, they were given less than five minutes to ask questions, and Murdoch said little during that time.
Unlike the previous conference call, there were no updates on Murdoch’s iPad app, The Daily. In the last quarter, Carey said it had lost $10 million.
For the quarter, income from continuing operations for News Corp. was $982 million, up from $902 million a year ago. Net income was at $683 million, down from $875 million a year ago as a result of a $254 million loss on the sale of MySpace. The increase in income was driven by the company’s cable TV and TV segments. In the publishing operations, quarterly operating income rose 37.8 percent to $270 million from $196 million. For the year, News Corp. reported net income of $2.89 billion on revenues of $33.4 billion, with publishing operating income of $864 million, up from $467 million the prior year. The yearly figures include charges of $125 million and $500 million for fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2010, respectively, related to the settlement of litigation at its Integrated Marketing Services division.