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September 13th, 1999

[7:00 AM] News Corp Interested In Buying Ziff-Davis

MSNBC reported this morning that News Corp may be eyeing Ziff Davis as a possible buyout target. News Corp is the giant parent corporation of the 20th Century Fox, Fox network, Fox News, Fox Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, lots of television stations, a host of newspapers, and numerous other entertainment properties [Editor's Note: Visit their home page for a complete listing]. The corporation is run by Rupert Murdock, the Australian born, and US naturalized citizen who has made headlines for the last 20 years for his entertainment and news acquisitions.

Ziff-Davis is the parent company of ZDNet and is part owners of Mac Publishing LLC, itself the parent company of Macworld Magazine, MacWeek, MacCentral, and other Mac properties. Ziff Davis also publishes PC World, PC Magazine, and several other technically oriented magazines.

News Corp is said to be interested in Ziff Davis specifically for its Internet properties, one area where News Corp does not have a stronghold. According to MSNBC:

THE ZIFF-DAVIS MOVE FOLLOWED a decision by its majority shareholder, Japan's Softbank Corp., to focus exclusively on Internet company investments. Ziff-Davis produces some of the world's leading technology magazines, including PC Magazine and PC Week, and runs trade shows as well as Internet activities. Its Internet businesses have a separately quoted tracking stock, which is 83 percent owned by the ZD Group.

The Observer said it was thought the takeover was being negotiated by Murdoch's son James, who heads News Corp.'s Internet business. It is unlikely that News Corp would wish to keep Ziff-Davis’ trade magazines, and purchase of the rest of the group would further Murdoch's aims to expand in Internet activities.

Since this report first surfaced, CBNC TV has reported that Ziff Davis denies being in talks with News Corp. The station also reported that Ziff Davis stated it was not ready to be a part of any more mergers at this time.

The Mac Observer Spin: This is a tasty rumor. It is unclear what would happen should any kind of buyout take place. There is little doubt that none of the concerned parties would be too interested in keeping Ziff Davis's various print properties. All of those properties have reportedly seen steadily declining subscription rates for much of the last 2 years as more and more readers head online to get their news. It is also unclear what would happen to the properties owned by Mac Publishing LLC. That companies online properties can claim a substantial number of eyeballs, and that is exactly in which many investors are most interested.

One thing is certain, when News Corp sets its sights on an acquisition target, it seldom misses.

News Corp - Ziff Davis



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