Rupert Murdoch takes a £415m Shine to daughter Liz’s indie production company

It’s good to have connections isn’t it? Especially when you’re an indie producer trying to get commissions from broadcasters.

Shine founder Elizabeth Murdoch has never found that much of a problem, father Rupert owning a controlling stake in Sky through his News Corporation and younger brother James running it for most of the last decade.

So it’s no real surprise that when she decided to put the company up for sale News was at the head of the bidding queue (we don’t know if there were any other serious suitors).

Even so £415m seems a bit toppy for an independent producer which has produced a number of hits but has also incurred fairly large debts after going on an acquisition spree. Liz owns 53 per cent of Shine (News owned 13 per cent, Sony 20 per cent) although she won’t be pocketing all £220m for her stake as the price includes debt.

News is trying to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it doesn’t currently own and doubtless sees a big future for Shine as it tries to broaden its programme base away from sport and bought-in films. It has recently done a deal with acclaimed US producer Home Box Office to show its wares exclusively in the UK on Sky Atlantic.

As for Liz (who is married to PR maven Matthew Freud) she will join the board of News Corporation (which she left in 2001) along with her bulging purse.

Will she play a role in the succession when dad eventually decides to step down? James is the clear heir apparent (other brother Lachlan having decided he prefers it in Australia).

Current gossip is that Murdoch pere wants to divide empire’s responsibilities between his three children.

Which sounds a recipe for complete disaster but the old boy has confounded his critics before (about a thousand times).

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.