The traditional shareholder revolt at NewsCorp (owner of Fox, Fox News, Sky, Harper Collins, the NY Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Sun) is back for another run, and this time it's gathering steam and may indeed make it. Rupert Murdoch and his family own a minority of the shares in NewsCorp, but their shares are in a special class of voting stock that means that they effectively get to do whatever they want with the majority investors' money. Effectively, Murdoch's initial pitch to investors was, "I'll take your money, but I'm not interested in your advice -- just cough up, shut up, and let me run this thing and I'll pay you some fat dividends."
But it's all gone rather wrong. Murdoch's ideological projects and nepotism have cost the business millions -- between a sweetheart deal that saw the company buying his daughter Elisabeth's startup Shine for £413M of the shareholders' money, and his son James's presiding over a phone-hacking scandal that destroyed News of the World, the bestselling newspaper (sic) in Britain, the investors are getting a bit tired of Murdoch running NewsCorp like his own personal fiefdom. It's one thing to play Colonel Kurtz in the jungle when it's making the shareholders rich, but when you start frittering away titanic assets like the NotW because you need to give your idiot son a job, well, that's another story.
As I said, this isn't the first time the shareholders have taken a swing at Rupert and his spawn, but this is a bigger, more multi-pronged, and better coordinated approach that any to date. Fingers crossed.
Dissident shareholders are pressing once more for the media mogul Rupert Murdoch to step down as chairman of News Corporation.
Shareholders from the US, UK and Canada filed a resolution on Tuesday, calling for News Corp to appoint an independent chairman. A similar resolution attracted strong support at the media company's annual shareholder meeting last year.
The proposal was introduced by Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), which manages $4.6bn for Catholic institutions worldwide. It is backed by the UK's Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, with assets of £115bn ($178.9bn), and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, one of Canada's largest institutional investors.
In a separate resolution, Nathan Cummings Foundation, an ethical investment group, has called on News Corp to end the dual-class share structure that allows the Murdoch family to control its media empire despite owning a minority of shares.
Rupert Murdoch must step down as News Corporation chair – shareholders [Dominic Rushe/The Guardian]