News Corp.: Hacking scandal could lead to split
News Corp.’s (NWS) board is expected to approve a plan to break up the company into two entities, freeing up its profitable entertainment business from the slower-growth publishing unit. Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the $53 billion media company, bowed to pressure to accept the split, after a phone-hacking scandal last year at one of its U.K. tabloids, said a person with knowledge of the matter. News Corp. derives at least 70 percent of its profit from television, yet its shares have long traded at a discount to those of media peers. The stock jumped 8.3 percent on June 26, when news of the possible restructuring broke.
Best Buy: Reeling retailer may go private
Best Buy (BBY) founder Richard Schulze is exploring taking the electronics retailer private and possibly selling his 20 percent stake, according to a person familiar with the matter. Schulze stepped down as chairman on June 7 after an internal probe found he failed to inform the company’s board about allegations that then-CEO Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. Best Buy posted a net loss of $1.23 billion last year, its first annual loss since 1991.
Harbinger Capital Partners: Founder Falcone faces SEC suit
Billionaire hedge fund manager Philip Falcone faces a showdown in court with the Securities and Exchange Commission over claims he improperly borrowed $113 million in client money in 2009 to pay his taxes. The SEC said in its suit that the founder of Harbinger Capital Partners also favored selected investors and manipulated bond prices. Matthew Dontzin, an attorney for Falcone, said that any allegations by the SEC are “neither supported by the facts or the law,” and that any suit “will be contested vigorously.”
Glencore International: Xstrata bid under threat
Glencore International’s (GLEN:LN) $26 billion offer to buy mining company Xstrata (XTA:LN) is on shaky ground, after Qatar Holding asked Glencore to raise its bid by 16 percent. The move by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which owns an 11 percent stake in Xstrata, comes after two other shareholders voiced criticism of the deal in February. Switzerland-based Glencore’s purchase of Xstrata would create the world’s fourth-largest mining company. Xstrata shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger on July 12.
Barclays: Hit with record fine
London-based Barclays (BCS) bank was fined £290 million ($453 million) by regulators in the U.S. and U.K. after admitting it submitted false interbank interest rates. Authorities say that to boost its financial condition during the credit crisis, the bank reported artificially low figures to the British Bankers’ Association, whose surveys of lenders are used to set the Libor rate, a widely used benchmark. Barclays declined to comment on the authorities’ statement. CEO Robert Diamond and three lieutenants will forgo their bonuses as a result.