Murdochs Fox Corp circles Tabcorp - 17th March
Zoe Samios and Patrick Hatch
Murdoch familys US media business Fox Corporation
has been working with other investors on a potential
bid for parts of ASX-listed gaming operator Tabcorp.
Los Angeles based company, which is run by billionaire
media scion Lachlan Murdoch, has also registered a
trademark for its betting arm FOXBet in Australia,
in a sign the company is considering an assault on
the local wagering industry.
Lachlan Murdoch, Fox in the US has pushed heavily
into betting. CREDIT: BLOOMBERG
Industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because talks are confidential said Mr Murdoch, who
has made a large amount of money from investments
into the US wagering market, has been weighing up
potential partnerships with local gaming companies.
sources also said Mr Murdoch was working behind the
scenes with a US investment fund on a potential deal
for Tabcorps bookmaking and media division.
Two sources said that the potential deal involves
heavyweight bookmaker Matthew Tripp. Others close
to Mr Tripp have since said he is not working with
Fox on any bid. Mr Tripp declined to comment.
approaches have been made to Tabcorp, market sources
said, and there is no guarantee any deal will eventuate.
has been debating a play in the local wagering market
for years. The company, which was formed following
the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney, established
the FoxBET joint venture with US gaming giant The
Stars Group in 2019. It started speaking to local
wagering companies about potential ways to bring its
business onto local shores, according to people familiar
with the discussions.
Media LLC (part of Fox) received approval in late
October for FoxBet trademark, records with the Australian
register show. A spokesperson for Mr Murdoch declined
to comment. Tabcorp also declined to comment.
is currently weighing up at least two offers for its
wagering and media business from global powerhouse
and Ladbrokes owner Entain and US private equity firm
$10 billion company has not said if it will move towards
a formal sale process. Major investors have pressured
Tabcorp to demerge its underperforming wagering business,
which has lost ground to online rivals such as Sportsbet,
to unlock value in its booming lotteries arm.
two business units were brought together in its 2017
merger with lotteries operator Tatts Group. Tabcorp
has only recently completed the integration of its
TAB wagering arm with Tatts UBET bookmaking
Tripp has consistently been linked to a third bid
for Tabcorp but other members of this consortium have
not been identified. He is considered a pioneer of
Australias online betting industry having been
behind the success of market leader Sportsbet and
later founding rival BetEasy in 2013, which was later
sold to James Packers Crown Resorts and then
Canadas Stars Group.
two brands combined following the $9 billion merger
Stars between Stars and Sportsbets Irish owner
Flutter. Mr Tripp last month re-emerged as an active
player in the local market by making a $25 million
personal investment in the ASX-listed wagering software
and data outfit BetMakers.
Tripp said last month that the new role would not
prevent him from involvement in the sale of Tabcorps
industry sources said on Wednesday that any non-industry
bidder - such as a private equity firm or media company
- would need to partner with an experienced wagering
player to convince state racing bodies they could
grow the TAB business, which generates the majority
of their funding. Peter Vlandys, chairman of
Racing NSW who has an existing relationship with Rupert
Murdochs News Corp, is considered a key player
in any takeover bid as he has the ability to veto
Murdochs, who founded News Corp, have a 39 per cent
interest in Fox via a family trust. Rupert Murdoch
is the chairman and Lachlan Murdoch is executive chairman
and chief executive. The company operates separately
to News Corp, which owns Foxtel and a string of local
and global newspapers.
would not be the first time the Murdoch family has
worked with Tabcorp. They formed the SunBet joint
venture in 2018, an online betting service that leveraged
the brand and audience of the UK tabloid. The venture
ultimately failed. But in the US, the foray into gambling
has been far more successful for the Murdochs.
was the first major media company that tried to directly
profit from a US Supreme Court ruling that effectively
legalised sports betting in the country. Bank of America
Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen recently
described Fox as the best positioned media company
to benefit from sports betting
in Fox closed at record highs on Tuesday, valuing
the business at $US25.4 billion ($32.8 billion). Mr
Murdochs investments into wagering have boosted
the market value of the company by about $US5 billion.
shares closed 1 per cent higher at $4.67.
Sydney Morning Herald)