Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has entered into a Credit Agreement with the Bank of America. The Credit Agreement, dated March 29th 2022 and filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the ASX in Australia, features a schedule of commitments including $100M in the form of Revolving Credit from the Bank of China.
The agreement also features a series of other lenders whose collective allotments provide the media organisation with a total of US$1,250,000,000. These other lenders include JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as well as a number of Australia's largest banks including Westpac, The Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank.
Of the 13 lenders listed, the Bank of China is the second largest financier, as the oldest and largest bank on Chinese soil with an estimated $3.7US trillion held in assets.
Source: https://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20220331/pdf/457j6jn142wxwm.pdf, Page 143
The Australian lenders are providing, on average, commitments of $28.3M as part of the first term of the loan and $42.5M in the form of revolving credit. The purpose of the credit is publically unknown, with the agreement document stating that the use of the funds are available for general purposes and refinancing existing credit agreements.
SECTION 2.17. Use of Proceeds. The proceeds of the Advances shall be available (and the each Borrower agrees that it shall use such proceeds) solely for general corporate purposes of the Borrower and its Subsidiaries and refinancing of the Existing Credit Agreement.
Source: https://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20220331/pdf/457j6jn142wxwm.pdf, Page 72
It has been suggested that the credit could be utilised as part of a corporate takeover. In March 2021, News Corp acquired three new corporate assets totalling $1.07 Billion, including the book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for $460 million and the Investors Business Daily for $360 million. In August 2021, News Corp then announced the acquisition of the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) for $1.15 Billion.
Closure of Australian Regional & Community News Outlets
In 2016, News Corp acquired virtually all regional newspapers operated by APN. This effectively closed the media chain which was purchased for $36 million.
In April 2020, News Corp closed down 60 of its newspaper outlets. By the middle of the year, News Corp closed down more than 100 print newspapers which largely served remote and regional communities. Of those outlets affected by these changes, 112 newspapers ceased publication of print media, 36 outlets closed down entirely and 76 would continue only as online publications. A number of the publications originally acquired as part of the APN acquisition were part of this list of outlets to be either closed or moved to only-online publication, including the Northern Star and Daily Examiner for New South Wales, and Sunshine Coast Daily, Mackay Daily Mercury and Queensland Times in Queensland.
News Corp claimed after the closure of these outlets that the media vacuum would be then covered by digital news. Past Federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and previous president of the International Federation of Journalists, Christopher Warren, speculated on the results of these closures:
"But like all commercial media News Corp is a business. This more limited regional news network will diminish over time, with any lingering news output focusing on communities that remain wealthy enough to attract advertising dollars. This means that in regional Australia local news will soon follow print as a luxury, with only the ABC filling the gap left by commercial market failure."