Rupert Murdoch is a survivor.
No, not just in the sense that he turned 82 last month and, when by summer News Corp. splits in two, is expected to chair the board of two multinational media giants.
The media mogul defied the critics that believed, two years ago, the phone-hacking scandal at his British tabloids would sink him and the company. But today, he remains as powerful as ever.
Here are some highlights from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s cover story on the old fox:
- Today, Murdoch survives at the helm of a global entertainment and publishing company that, far from being diminished, has soared in value. The day before Murdoch appeared in Parliament, the stock closed at $14.96 a share. On April 12 it closed at $31.54. The company is now valued at $73 billion. Revenue and earnings are up. The company has $3.3 billion in cash. Since July 19, 2011, the Murdoch family’s 38 percent stake of News Corp. Class B voting shares has grown in value from $5.1 billion to $9.5 billion.
- The police have said that there were thousands of potential phone-hacking victims. As of February 2013, Murdoch’s company had resolved roughly 700 claims. It’s cost them. Between July 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, according to company filings, News Corp. spent $250 million on legal fees and other expenses related to the phone-hacking scandal and an additional $25 million on settlements. While that may sound like a painful amount, the actual legal costs are far less than predicted at the peak of the crisis in 2011… [Richard] Levick, a Washington lawyer [who runs a firm specializing in corporate crisis management], says the settlement money was well spent. “The settlements kept it all off the front page,” he says. “What did it cost? Clearly only a fraction of the increase in the company’s share value. So it’s a smart cost of doing business.”
- “The big win for Murdoch is that as much coverage as it got in the U.S., the crisis didn’t jump the Atlantic,” says Levick. “They were able to cordon it off as largely a British story.”
- In February 2012, seven months after closing News of the World, Murdoch rolled out a new Sunday version of his daily tabloid the Sun—effectively reoccupying the niche his company had made such a big deal of leaving. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, between September 2012 and February 2013, the Sun averaged 2.3 million daily readers—significantly more than its closest rivals, the Daily Mail (1.8 million readers) and the Daily Mirror (1 million). Over the same time period, the Sun on Sunday has averaged 1.9 million readers, topping its competitors, the Mail on Sunday (1.7 million) and the Sunday Mirror (1 million). Murdoch’s papers may not be as popular as they were before the crisis, but, then again, few newspapers are… Murdoch remains the most read publisher in the U.K.
Read the whole Felix Gillette piece here.