"Forget about the Digital Divide. Half the people in the world don't even have electricity. How're you going to get a computer in their hands, bubba?" -- Ted Turner, speaking to the Entrepreneurs' FoundationEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top
Free Orbit for Murdoch's Birds
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will file the prospectus for a spin-off of its satellite and digital media properties before June 30, say sources close to the project. The initial public offering is likely before year's end.
The new company, code-named Platco, aims to consolidate News Corp.'s satellite assets into "the largest distribution platform in the world," says News Corp. President Peter Chernin. Its heart will be Asian broadcaster StarTV--which has lost $1 billion since 1993. Platco will also hold News Corp.'s stakes in British Sky Broadcasting, TV Guide, interactive TV software maker News Digital Services, and satellite operators in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif-Cohen pegs Platco's value at $36 billion to $52 billion, admittedly a huge range. News Corp. would likely keep 60% to 70% of the spin-off and also seek a big investor such as Yahoo! or Microsoft to validate the hefty price tag. Richard Peterson, an analyst with Thomson Financial Securities Data, says the deal will probably get done, "but I don't think it's going to be a highflier."
And who will run Platco? Industry sources say that likely candidates right now are News Corp. co-COO Chase Carey or BSkyB CEO Tony Ball.By Spencer E. Ante; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
Labor Standards with Teeth?
For most of its 81 years, critics have derided the International Labor Organization (ILO) as a toothless body that does little besides publish reports that no one reads. Now the U.N. agency, run by Director-General Juan Somavia, may be ready to grow a few baby teeth. In mid-June, an ILO conference in Geneva will vote on whether to sanction Myanmar (Burma) for forced-labor abuses under a never-used clause in the ILO constitution.
If a majority of the ILO's 174 member countries agree, as seems likely, the agency's charges of labor abuses could have new bite. How so? The clause would allow the ILO to officially send the charges to a wider audience of member governments and other U.N. agencies.
It also would give governments legal cover to penalize the censured country with trade or investment restrictions, says Thomas Niles, a U.S. ILO delegate. This might temper further eruptions like those last year in Seattle, where unions wanted the World Trade Organization to enforce labor standards because of the ILO's ineffectiveness.By Aaron Bernstein; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
Pack a Tuxedo--and a Life Jacket
The Titanic may ride the waves again if a feisty South African entrepreneur gets his way. Sarel Gous, a 49-year-old entertainment lawyer from Pretoria, hopes to launch a $650 million version of the ill-fated ocean liner in 2003.
Gous and five other investors have spent more than two years and $800,000 researching the commercial feasibility of Titanic II, which would be a cruise ship. On June 9, he planned to meet the City Council in Belfast, where the original vessel was built in the Harland & Wolff shipyard. The Titanic II, at 1,115 feet, would be about 230 feet longer than the original. It would have the same lines, the same decor in its public spaces, and would carry 1,650 passengers.
A spokesman at Harland & Wolff, which still has the original plans, was mum about Gous. But he said Harland has received other Titanic II proposals. The success of 1997's Titanic with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio helped. "The boat was really romantic, and it was a classic," says Gous. And that iceberg thing? "People know it is a new boat. They won't have the same safety concerns."By Heidi Dawley; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top