Friday 16 May 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: Big Brother's Watching You

This week has been a week of M&A with the Pfizer / Astrazeneca deal taking centre stage. Business leaders and politicians debated the merits and effects that the largest ever foreign takeover of a British company could have on the UK economy. Meanwhile Dixons and Carphone Warehouse released their plans of a £3.5bn merger. Also, Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox announced its intention to enter into a Joint Venture with Apollo Global (owner of TV production companies Endemol and Core Media Group).

All of these deals are interesting within their different spaces, indicating the current appetite for big moves breaking international boundaries. Whilst the multibillion pound pharma deal is stealing the lion’s share of the media coverage, however, the media deal is particularly intriguing as it will not only have financial implications for the television production companies involved, but will also allow the media personalities involved to flex their already strong muscles.

The 21st Century Fox company that will be brought together with Endemol and Core Media Group is that of Shine, a Company chaired by Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth.

The Murdoch family is well-known for its position in and over the media industry; it has been described as a monopoly. Without detailing the scandals of the past few years, the Murdochs have featured heavily in the newspapers that they publish, and just this week BSkyB was detailed as being in talks to buy Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.

This entertainment JV sees the next stage of development of the Murdoch monopoly - the purchase of Park Lane and Mayfair. With Shine set to partner with Endemol and Core Media Group, Elisabeth Murdoch will now have a bigger part to play within the media industry, following in her father’s footsteps and rivalling the power of her charming brother James (NED of BskyB).

This forthcoming increase in Murdoch power is nicely, if ironically, illustrated when considering the TV programmes that Endemol and Core Media Group currently produce - Big Brother and American Idol (respectively). Both of these reality-TV shows have made their names through the portrayal of a group of participants being controlled and manipulated. Although it would perhaps be too far to suggest that the nature of these shows were the reasons for 21st Century Fox taking a Shine to the Companies owned by Apollo, it does feels slightly indicative of the control that the Murdochs currently have and will continue to have over the international media community.

We must, however, be fair. Yes, the Murdochs are infamous within global media and have a huge influence over what the public thinks, but it is in-arguable that Rupert has grown his businesses effectively and successfully. What Elisabeth Murdoch will bring to this new venture is the experience and scale that her background has instilled in her, and if this JV increases the capacity and scope for success for these companies, than who can argue that it will not be a positive thing?

For now, however, the general public will have to turn their Big Brother eye towards the future to see how the story of this merger, and of the Murdoch family as a whole, plays out.

World. The Murdochs are watching you.

This week, Abchaps had a great time sharing insights at Smith & Williamson's "The changing environment – a briefing for the financial services sector" event. We also enjoyed a great night of horse betting at Marriott Harrison Connect - Race Night with other advisers.

At our market lunches this week, we discussed with other City advisers how the City has evolved to embrace opportunities from Asia, as well as the trends and opportunities of the mining sector.

This week our friends over at Smith & Williamson Investment Management hired Ed Rosengarten as Head of Funds for the pooled funds division, whilst Adrian Rainey was appointed partner in the corporate technology practice over at Taylor Wessing. Eversheds have been joined by new partner Jonathan Brooks in their commercial dispute and investigations practice.

Head to the roof this weekend if you want to make the most out of London and its finer weather! We suggest taking a trip to Radio Rooftop Bar to get a world-class view of the City whilst sipping on some fairly delectable cocktails. Put your glad rags on, this place is teeming with glammed up Londoners and model-types. Even more, the Bar is even well heated, allowing its customers to party on into the night in total comfort.

Keen to make the most of the sun but with a slightly more relaxed vibe? The Queen of Hoxton is running its Roof Top Cinema evenings once again. Lounge on your deckchair, make the most of the BBQ and watch some of your favourite 80s classics and retro Hollywood films.

If whisky is your tipple, then it’s also The London Whisky Weekender over in Bethnal Green at the Oval Space. Try some of the finest drinks from over 20 different distilleries. Yes, we know it’s finally sunny but sometimes it’s just got to be done!

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