NEW YORK -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., moving to regain full control of its majority-owned Fox television properties, is offering to buy the remaining publicly held shares of Fox Entertainment Group Inc. in a nearly $5.9 billion stock deal.
Fox shares surged nearly 10 percent, topping the value of Murdoch's offer and suggesting that investors expect to be paid more.
The exchange offer disclosed yesterday would solidify Murdoch's control over the Fox assets which include the Fox broadcast network as well as Fox news and sports channels, the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, and a controlling interest in satellite television giant DirecTV.
Under the deal revealed yesterday, News Corp. would offer to exchange 1.9 shares of News Corp. stock for each outstanding Fox class A share it doesn't already own.
News Corp. currently owns approximately 82.1 percent of the equity and 97 percent of the voting power of Fox Entertainment.
It owns about 59.1 percent of the outstanding Fox class A common stock and all of the Fox class B common stock.
In trading yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange, Fox Entertainment shares rose $3.06, or 9.8 percent, to $34.28 -- a 52-week high.
News Corp. shares slipped 38 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $17.85.
Analysts were mixed whether mixed as to whether the News Corp. offer was adequate.
"We disagree . . . that the offer constitutes a fair and full price," Equity Group Inc. analyst Katherine Styponias said in a research note.
"A price closer to $37 is what they should hold out for."
A News Corp. buyout of Fox had been expected following the November decision by News Corp. to move its base to the United States from Australia.