News Corp Shares Close -4.3% After Resignations And Arrests

UPDATE, 1:20 PM: News Corp closed at $15.40, down 4.3%.

PREVIOUS, 6:42 AM: If the price doesn’t pick up, then News Corp will have lost 15% of its market value thus far in July primarily due to the investor concerns about the fall out from the UK phone hacking and police bribery scandal. Today’s the first full day of trading here following the resignations of Dow Jones chief Les Hinton, the resignation and arrest of News International’s Rebekah Brooks, and the resignation of Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson. Analysts still say that News Corp should be able to weather the storm — but they’re growing concerned. In a report this morning Nomura Equity Research analyst Michael Nathanson, who still urges investors to buy News Corp shares, says that there’s “uncertainty around the legal fallout from the phone hacking scandal.” But he says News Corp probably would not have to pay a huge fine under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act if authorities conclude that News Of The World reporters bribed officials at Scotland Yard. The reason: “It could prove difficult to show that the payments have directly assisted in obtaining or retaining business for the paper.” Similarly he says there’s only a “remote” risk that the FCC might take away some of Fox’s TV station licenses. He and other analysts also wonder whether Murdoch will be forced to sell his UK newspapers — despite his insistence that he’ll keep them. The operation “is causing far more pain to News Corp.’s valuation than the division is worth,” BTIG’s Rich Greenfield says this morning. As a result, he adds, “maintaining the status quo may not be possible.”

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