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No, Rupert Murdoch Isn’t Buying Twitter

January 21, 2016, 9:56 AM UTC
Squawk on the Street
SQUAWK ON THE STREET -- Pictured: Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, and just-named interim CEO of Twitter, in an interview at CNBC's San Francicso bureau, on June 12, 2015 -- (Photo by: John Chiala/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
CNBC NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWS) said rumors about the company’s interest in buying microblogging site Twitter Inc (TWTR) or building a stake in it were untrue.

Twitter’s shares, which rose as much as 14% on Wednesday, pared some gains and closed up 4.1% at $17.38.

The stock had risen from a record low after unconfirmed chatter about News Corp’s interest in Twitter circulated on Wednesday. The rumors intensified after a CNBC segment, tech website Re/code said. It argued that the shar drop in Twitter’s share price–it’s fallen nearly 75% from its 2014 peak–had made it vulnerable to a takeover. Since October, when co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as chief executive, it has fallen 41%.

Dorsey has been trying to make the Twitter service more engaging. The company said in December it was testing a feature to show ads to people who read tweets without logging in as it tries to make money from non-active users. And recent reports suggest that it is thinking of abandoning the strict 140-character limit on tweets to open the platform up to a broader mix of content.

“Twitter inside a larger organization definitely makes theoretical sense, whether it’s another internet company or a media company,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

But a News Corp. spokesman said there was no truth to the rumors.

Twitter already has several high-profile investors. Former Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer reported a 4% stake in October, making him the third-biggest shareholder after Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Prince Alwaleed had sold most of his stake in News Corp last year.

Twitter has been the subject of takeover rumors in the past, but none of them ultimately came to anything. According to reports, Twitter had received interest from Alphabet Inc’s (GOOG) Google and Facebook Inc (FB).

Twitter trades at 28.12 times its forward earnings, below its peer median of 36.06. Facebook has a PE of 33.08, while LinkedIn Corp’s is 52.64, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“Even though News Corp denied the rumors, I do think this could help investors potentially see some valuations for the stock,” Cakmak added.