NEW YORK (AP) — Calling it the next logical step in an evolution over nearly six decades, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said Thursday that it will split into two publicly traded companies.
As part of the split, one company will operate as a newspaper and book publisher, and the other will be an entertainment company that will include the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox broadcast TV network and the Fox News cable channel.
While News Corp.'s board unanimously approved the split, it will need to review a more formal proposal on the matter. The deal is also subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. News Corp. said it plans to hold a meeting of its shareholders sometime in 2013. The entire process may take a year to finalize.
The Murdoch family, which controls nearly 40 percent of the voting shares in News Corp., is expected to maintain control of both companies. Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman of both companies and CEO of the media and entertainment company. News Corp. said it plans to assemble management teams and boards for both companies over the next several months.
Murdoch said in a conference call with investors that a split would result in two strong companies.
"We've come a long way in our journey that began nearly 60 years ago with a single newspaper operating out of Adelaide," Murdoch said, referring to the Australian newspaper that he inherited from his father that became the foundation for News Corp.
The split of News Corp. is a symbolic turning point for Murdoch, 81. Through the years, Murdoch maintained a fondness for newspapers even as he purchased entertainment companies. In hearings last summer before U.K. lawmakers, he conceded that he regularly called newspaper editors under his employ with the greeting: "What's doing?"
Investors have already blessed the split. They've pushed the company's Class B stock up 10 percent since the news of the plan broke early Tuesday. The stock edged down 15 cents to $22.26 in midday trading Thursday.