Rupert Murdoch is famous for building his global empire with a blizzard
of foreign acquisitions since 1970, but over the past 12
months he’s been surpassed by Macquarie Bank, which now controls more
foreign assets than the Sun King.

Macquarie Bank and News Corp have never collaborated in their empire
building and in fact have been brawling in the NSW Supreme Court for
more than a year over Michael West’s coverage in The Australian over the Millionaire Factory’s dealings with the Beaconsfield goldmine.

However, it appears that a truce may be on the horizon and the two groups are now even doing deals together, if you can believe The Australian‘s business lead today which began as follows:

News Corporation is understood to have joined Macquarie
Bank’s $US7 billion ($9.6 billion) bid for the Hong Kong telecoms and
media assets of Richard Li’s PCCW. Sources in Hong Kong told The Australian yesterday that News
Corp had taken a “modest” stake in the Macquarie Bank consortium, possibly of
around 10 to 20%.

With Rupert Murdoch remaining in Australia for the rest of the week,
don’t be surprised if the defamation matter is tidied up as well.

So what are the connections between Macquarie and Rupert? Well,
Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group chairman Gerry Moriarty
had plenty of dealings with News Corp over Foxtel when he was at
Telstra. Similarly, Ted Pretty is in the same boat and he’s now a
consultant to Macquarie. The PCCW assets up for grabs are the same ones
that cost Telstra shareholders almost $2 billion.

Michael Pascoe reported last week that Macquarie may be backing the
wrong faction on the Chinese mainland, but Rupert has strong Chinese
connections and could well be wheeled out to help smooth the way.
However, the Murdoch family’s relations with Richard Li have been
troubled in the past, as this Business Weekstory from 2000 explains. It sounds like a heady cocktail indeed.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey