I don’t know whether Rupert Murdoch was familiar with Southeastern Asset Management and its billionaire CEO O. Mason Hawkins before today — but I can assure you that he is now. The Memphis-based investment firm says in an SEC filing that it bought 11.9% of News Corp, the publishing company that Murdoch created in June with a spin off that collected his entertainment holdings at 21st Century Fox. There’s no indication in the filing about Hawkins’ plans for the 23.77M shares his firm controls. Although SAM isn’t known as an activist investor, Hawkins recently allied with Carl Icahn to oppose Michael Dell’s effort to take Dell Computers private. (Icahn this week abandoned his campaign to stop the leveraged buyout.). In a mid-year report to his investors, Hawkins said that most of the companies in which he invests and their CEOs “remain low profile because they deliver results over time.” He added, though, that when he believes new leaders would do a better job “Southeastern and their boards will hold these leaders accountable.” SAM is also a major investor in DirecTV, Scripps Networks, Tribune, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, but early this year bailed out of Disney.
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