MUMBAI: News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is eyeing Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune from its financially struggling owner Tribune Co to bolster his print business, which boasts of Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
The company wants to secure a foothold in Los Angeles and Chicago and is in early talks with Tribune Co debt holders which includes hedge fund Oaktree Capital.
Murdoch is looking to buy the Los Angeles Times from struggling media conglomerate Tribune Co, whose books were recently examined by News Corp executives and Murdoch's son James Murdoch as part of due diligence process.
However, Murdoch's plan to expand his newspaper business might face regulatory hurdles since News Corp also owns TV stations in both the markets. Federal Communications Commission rules prevent media ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same market.
Murdoch might also have to battle other potential bidders such as venture capitalist and ex-LA deputy mayor Austin Beutner, Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushnere, and San Diego real estate mogul Doug Manchester.
The move is seen as a precursor to News Corp's decision to split the television and film business from the loss making print business. This coincides with Murdoch's forced retrenchment from part of the print business in the UK.
The American print market has been battling declining circulation and advertising revenue since 2007 with ad revenue dropping almost 50 per cent to $24 billion, according to the Newspaper Association of America. But Murdoch sees promise in consolidating the market and also having an online extension of the print publications.
In 2011, News Corp was ravaged by phone hacking scandal at its UK publishing business which led to the shutting down of News of the World newspaper.