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News Corp Australia is reportedly in late-stage discussions with a group headed by renowned Australian bookmaker Matthew Tripp. That could lead to the creation of a new wagering entity and a run at Tabcorp’s media and sports betting businesses.
Unidentified sources with knowledge of the matter tell The Sydney Morning Herald that the media giant is also in discussions with its US operation — Fox Corp. (NASDAQ:FOXA) — to procure licensing rights to use the FOX Bet brand for the new Aussie venture.
Fox previously sought to bring the betting business to Australia with the help of another wagering company. But local media reports indicate Rupert Murdoch’s enterprise will run FOX Bet in the Land Down Under.
That jibes with News Corp’s efforts to bolster its sports wagering profile in Australia, which is one of the most active, mature sports betting markets in the world.
Tabcorp Could Be Objective, Too
News of a potential arrangement between News Corp Australia and a Tripp-backed consortium emerges just days after BetMakers – a company to which the famed bookmaker is a special adviser – lobbed a $3.1 billion offer for Tabcorp’s coveted media and sports wagering divisions.
With today’s news that Tripp and News Corp are considering a partnership of some kind, speculation is intensifying that the two parties could come together to make a run at the Tabcorp businesses. That would make sense, because rumors previously indicated the media company could enter the Tabcorp bidding process at some point.
It’d also be practical on another level: News Corp’s deep pockets. While BetMakers’ offer for the Tabcorp assets tops proposals made by Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) and Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY), there are concerns the sportsbook operator’s bid of a mix of cash and equity won’t be compelling to Tabcorp shareholders that are looking to wash their hands of the aforementioned units. Conversely, Apollo and Entain are offering cash.
More Moving Parts for News Corp, Tripp
Tripp’s BetMakers isn’t part of the group that’s aiming to bring the FOX Bet brand to Australia. But he could get involved on that front assuming the suitor’s bid for the Tabcorp assets proves successful.
If that happens, the plan would be for Tripp to run the new FOX Bet Australia platform in conjunction with Tabcorp’s popular TAB sportsbook, with the aim being to capture younger bettors that prefer sports to horse racing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Murdochs, which control News Corp and the Fox assets in the US, have some experience with two sports wagering brands operating under one corporate umbrella. FOX Bet in the US functions side-by-side with FanDuel under Flutter Entertainment (OTC:PDYPY) management.
However, that’s an increasingly contentious relationship, indicating the Murdochs have potentially learned some lessons that will be applied to any potential marriage between Tripp and FOX Bet Australia. Still, teaming with Tripp is an alluring prospect for the media company, as it looks to shore up its sports wagering exposure. He created Sportsbet — Australia’s second-largest bookmaker behind TAB.
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