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News Corp. Buys Wireless Generation for $360 Million, Expands in Education

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp. agreed to acquire 90 percent of education-technology provider Wireless Generation for about $360 million in cash, as Rupert Murdoch’s media company looks to expand in academics.

Wireless Generation’s management, led by founder and Chief Executive Officer Larry Berger, will remain, New York-based News Corp. said yesterday in a statement. Berger, Chief Operating Officer Josh Reibel and product chief Laurence Holt will retain a 10 percent stake, the company said.

The deal follows News Corp.’s hiring of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein this month as a senior adviser to Murdoch. Klein will develop business strategies for the educational marketplace, News Corp. said on Nov. 9.

“When it comes to K-through-12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed,” Murdoch, 79, said in yesterday’s statement.

News Corp. fell 47 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $13.74 at 4 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares are unchanged this year.

Wireless Generation, based in Brooklyn, New York, makes Web-based software that allows teachers to track student progress and tailor instruction individually.

The company, founded in 2000, has 400 employees and also offers systems that centralize student data. It is a partner with the New York City Department of Education on its Achievement Reporting and Innovation System and School of One initiative, News Corp. said.

In an Oct. 6, speech at the Media Institute Awards Dinner, Murdoch advocated for improvements in big-city public schools, which he called “failure factories” that threaten upward mobility and opportunities for disadvantaged students.

“The real story is the almost criminal waste of human potential,” Murdoch said then in Washington, according to a transcript of his remarks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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