News Corp. ready to unload MySpace

Parent company is eyeing the sale of the social network, saying that it's received interest from potential buyers without placing MySpace on the market.

News Corp. is weighing the sale of MySpace as one of a few remaining options to deal with the once popular but now languishing social network.

News Corp. CEO Chase Carey said yesterday in an earnings conference call that the time is right to consider either restructuring its relationship with MySpace or just selling it outright.

"We recognize that the plan to allow MySpace to reach its full potential may be best developed under a new ownership structure and we're evaluating those strategic alternatives," Carey said, according to the AFP news service.

Although Carey clarified that options could include a sale, a new investor, or even sticking with MySpace but only through some type of restructuring, he did acknowledge that News Corp. has already heard from potential buyers.

"The interest to date has ranged from 'A' to 'Z,' from industry players, financial players to foreign to domestic and that's without really being out there," he said, according to AFP. "It's sort of incoming, we're not soliciting anything at this point."

The latest rumblings about a sale or other alternative follow word last month from a MySpace representative that News Corp. was looking into possibilities, such as a sale or spinoff.

Yesterday, News Corp. reported net income double that from the prior year's quarter, thanks in large part to a strong showing from its cable and broadcast TV operations. But the good news was tempered by higher losses and slower sales from MySpace, forcing its parent to take another writedown on the struggling company. Last month, MySpace CEO Mike Jones announced plans to lay off almost half of all his employees.

When News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005, the social network was considered a hot property. But as competition from Facebook began to surface, both membership and ad revenue started to decline. Former MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta tried to explain the problem when he was still at the helm in 2009, saying that the company stopped innovating and moving forward at the same time it was hit by the growing popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

MySpace has since tried a couple of tricks, such as reinventing itself into more of an entertainment hub for the Generation Y crowd and cutting a deal with Facebook to let people log in to MySpace with their Facebook accounts. But in a November call with analysts, Chase himself acknowledged that time is running out for MySpace.

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