Gemstar-TV Guide International, the television guide business in which News Corp has more than a 40% stake, has effectively been put on the market after years of heavy losses. The company says it is exploring all options. Shares in the company rose to an annual high on the news.
“The Company has made significant improvements throughout its businesses and the Board is very pleased with the growth and strategic direction under CEO Richard Battista,” said chairman Anthea Disney in a statement. “We are now poised to investigate the range of available strategic alternatives for continuing to build shareholder value.”
Gemstar-TV Guide has interests in publishing, television and new media, including interactive programme guide products and services. The company has patents that cover certain aspects of electronic programme guides which it licenses to pay-television operators.
TV Guide is still best known as a television listings magazine, the circulation of which has declined dramatically in the digital era, although it has diversified into a range of electronic products.
News Corp became the largest shareholder in TV Guide when it originally spent $3 billion acquiring the stake owned by Liberty Media. News Corp subsequently had to make billions of dollars in write-downs of its investment as the value of Gemstar diminished, not least as a result of an accounting scandal.
News Corp is understood to fully support the decision to explore strategic alternatives to maximize the value for shareholders.