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Holly LaFon
Holly LaFon
Articles (7942) 

Mason Hawkins Buys 12% of News Corp

While still embroiled in a fraught relationship with Dell (DELL), Mason Hawkins’ Southeastern Management has taken a major position in Rupert Murdoch’s company, News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS), according to GuruFocus Real Time Picks. Hawkins acquired an 11.9% stake in the company, amounting to 23,767,700 shares in aggregate.

Hawkins first disclosed he was purchasing News Corp. shares in his semi-annual report, released Aug. 14.

“We purchased News Corp (NWS), another company we have owned previously. As the company split out the U.S. Fox entertainment business, we had the opportunity to own the remaining strongly financed, premier media assets around the world at an attractive discount,” he wrote.

News Corp spun off its movie and TV assets in late June, naming the independent company 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX)(NASDAQ:FOXA). The remaining print assets retained the News Corp name and became the nation’s largest print media company, whose assets include The Wall Street Journal, Times of London, New York Post and book publisher Harper Collins.

News Corp stock began trading at roughly $15.50 per share in June and has since climbed almost 10% to $17.06 in Wednesday trading, including a 2.03% jump on news of Southeastern’s purchase.


Hawkins engaged in relatively little buying in the second quarter, picking up only one new stock, Mosaic Co. (NYSE:MOS), and adding to positions in CNH Global NV (CNH), Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) and Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE:LVLT).

He also sold roughly half of his shares in Dell to Carl Icahn during the quarter, “to enable him to construct a compelling alternative” to the management buyout. Southeastern opposed the $13.75 per share and 13 cent special dividend offer Michael Dell and Silver Lake proposed during the quarter. Hawkins retains slightly more than 71 million Dell shares.

Fellow value investor Donald Yacktman of Yacktman Asset Management is also a significant owner of News Corp shares, though he prefers the spun-off Fox business. He wrote in his second quarter commentary:

News Corp. (NWS) and Viacom were also strong contributors to the results during the quarter. At the end of June, News Corp. completed its spin-off. As a result, we now own shares in both 21st Century Fox (“Fox”), which owns an attractive collection of cable, broadcast, film and cable and satellite properties around the world and in News Corp. (retaining the old name), which largely consists of newspapers, book publishing and a collection of Australian assets.

By far our larger investment going forward is in the Fox shares, which we think will be one of the fastest growing media companies. Fox is extremely well positioned for growth, especially internationally, and in the next few months will launch Fox Sports 1, a national sports network which we think could be a significant new growth opportunity domestically.

See more Mason Hawkins trades in his portfolio here.

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