Rupert Murdochs last corporate punt be on the
betting industry? - 15th March 2021
Rupert Murdoch was a student at the Victorian boarding
school Geelong Grammar in the 1940s he was known to
spend spare weekends at the nearby racetrack betting
it would be fitting if the billionaire media moguls
latest, and perhaps final, corporate manoeuvre in
his homeland involved a punt on the betting industry
will Rupert Murdoch place his final bets? CREDIT:
turned 90 last week, and the passing of that milestone
has already sparked significant intrigue. The Financial
Times used a lengthy feature to speculate that the
News Corp executive chairman has one big deal left
potential for News Corp, his Australian focused vehicle
which owns a controlling stake in Foxtel and various
local and global newspapers including the Herald Sun
in Melbourne and the Wall Street Journal, to be reunited
with his other listed media vehicle, US focused Fox
Corp, has long been discussed and could make a lot
there is at least one other deal process in Australia
that may have piqued Murdochs interest. An auction
is under way for Australias largest listed gambling
business, Tabcorp, after the $10 billion firm told
the market last month it had received numerous approaches
for its wagering business, which includes the TAB
and Sky Racing brands.
the UK-based owner of Ladbrokes and Sportingbet, has
already lobbed a $3 billion bid for the wagering business.
Private equity firms have also been linked with the
asset. It would make sense if Murdoch was keeping
a close eye on proceedings too.
family certainly has form in this industry. Under
Lachlan Murdoch, Fox in the US has become a slimmed
down company focused on live news and sport, but also
one that has pushed heavily into betting. Lachlan,
who was appointed co-chairman of News Corp in 2014,
has exercised more influence over the family empire
as his fathers health waned.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif
Cohen recently described Fox as the best positioned
media company to benefit from sports betting
and its exposure to the sector has been paying off
- Fox shares closed at record highs on Friday, valuing
the business at $US25 billion ($32 billion).
are natural adjacencies between live news and sport
and gambling that apply in both the United States
and Australia. Betting companies are among the biggest
advertisers for live sport, while in game betting
on sport also offers new revenue streams for traditional
established the FoxBET joint venture with US gaming
giant The Stars Group in 2019, which it has promoted
heavily on its television properties.
has a 2.5 per cent strategic stake in Flutter, the
UK-based owner of Stars, global betting exchange Betfair,
Sportsbet in Australia and other key assets in the
US including sports betting and fantasy website FanDuel.
Fox also has options to increase its stake in FanDuel
and other US assets significantly, and this exposure
has excited investors.
Australia, live odds are quoted on some sports on
Foxtels KayoSports streaming platform. Through
its Sky Racing channel, Tabcorp also has media assets
that are arguably underperforming that News may be
able to invigorate.
Murdochs have teamed up with Tabcorp before. In 2016
they formed SunBet joint venture, an online betting
service that leveraged the brand and audience of the
UK tabloid. However, the venture ultimately failed.
other key piece of the Tabcorp puzzle is unlikely
to faze Murdoch, should his interest be sufficiently
piqued. It involves Racing NSW chief executive and
(Australian Rugby League Commission chairman) Peter
influential administrator emerged as a kingmaker in
the Tabcorp process last month. Since Racing NSW controls
a key regulatory licence for Tabcorp in a major market,
Vlandys effectively has veto power over any
deal and told this masthead last month we will
certainly not be giving that approval lightly.
controls big advertising budgets and gets a favourable
run in the News Corp papers. He isnt afraid
to use his considerable influence in sport and media
and will drive a hard bargain in any negotiation.
As has Murdoch, time and again, in his storied corporate
Sydney Morning Herald)