CORRECTION: Southeastern Asset stake in News Corp "fishy" - analysts

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Sep 12, 2013 07:04 AM EDT

CORRECTED: Changing reference of Southeastern Asset Management as a global investment management firm and not a hedge fund.

According to a US regulatory filing, Southeastern Asset Management purchased a 4.1% economic interest or 12% voting stake in News Corp. The Memphis-based investment firm acquired 23.8 million of Class B shares valued at USD397 million.

The USD33 billion global investment management firm who has allied with activist billionaire Carl Icahn said in the regulatory filing that it would not be having plans to influence the publishing company. However, several analysts saw this as a surprising move for the company. 

BBY Media analyst Mark McDonnell said, "(A) 12 per cent stake is a blocking stake in a potential takeover scenario and that is a source of market power,'' he said. ''Twelve per cent would often be seen as sufficient to warrant a position on the board and that would also provide scope for a higher level of influence than smaller shareholders. Whether that is the objective here is not known."

Another anonymous analyst said that the acquisition was significant that the price was the top end of the share valuation. He further speculated that the move might be a step to sway company ownership in Southeastern Asset's favor upon Rupert Murdoch's death.

A spin off of 21 Century Fox, the publishing company has Murdoch and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal as its biggest investors prior to the acquisition, owning 39% and 6.6% of News Corp's stock respectively. 

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