© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Fox News electronic ticker is seen outside the News Corporation building in New York City, in New York, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
(Reuters) -T. Rowe Price, a major shareholder in News Corp (NASDAQ:), said it had strong reservations about Rupert Murdoch’s plan to reunite News Corp and Fox Corp, The New York Times reported on Friday, making it the third investor to express dissent over the plan.
T. Rowe Price told the newspaper that a merger of the two companies would probably undervalue News Corp, which it believes is trading for less than it is worth.
T. Rowe Price is the largest shareholder in News Corp after the Murdoch family and owns about 17.88%, according to Refinitiv data.
The report comes after other major shareholders Independent Franchise Partners and Irenic Capital opposed Murdoch’s plan, proposed in October, to recombine the companies he separated in 2013.
Independent Franchise Partners owns about 7% of News Corp’s Class A shares and 6.4% in Fox Corp. Activist investor Irenic Capital Management holds 2% of News Corp’s shares.
T. Rowe Price wanted to make its concerns known to the boards and the public before the companies put forward any firm proposal, the newspaper quoted Vincent DeAugustino, one of the portfolio managers who oversees T. Rowe’s investment in News Corp, as saying.
“It’s more constructive to help form the process than try to push back against any proposal once it’s been made,” DeAugustino told the newspaper.
T. Rowe Price, News Corp and Fox did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In the 2013 split, Murdoch put his publishing business in newly created public entity News Corp and the TV and entertainment businesses under 21st Century Fox.