Government Clears Murdoch Stake In Pearson
LONDON (AP) _ The government on Tuesday gave its approval to News Corp. Ltd.’s purchase of a 20.4 percent stake in Pearson PLC, publisher of the Financial Times.
The clearance came as Lord Young, the government’s trade secretary, decided not to refer the shareholding to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The commission has the power to investigate planned takeovers for possible adverse impact on competition or on the public interest.
News Corp., which owns several London newspapers including the Times of London, began acquiring Pearson shares last September, when it launched a ″dawn raid″ - the surprise purchase of a large number of shares in the open market - that took its holding to just under 15 percent of Pearson’s shares.
Subsequent purchases, including a 4.9 percent stake bought from Cerus BV, controlled by Italian financier Carlo de Benedetti, took News Corp.’s holding to 20.4 percent.
News Corp., which is controlled by publisher Rupert Murdoch, has said it doesn’t intend to bid for the remainder of Pearson in the absence of a material change in the circumstances of the company.
Lord Young said late last year any takeover bid for the Financial Times would be referred to the commission.