Murdoch quits UK boards in symbolic move
RUPERT MURDOCH has stepped down from the boards of all of News Corp’s UK newspaper businesses, symbolically distancing himself from the Fleet Street empire he began when he bought the News of the World and the Sun in 1969.
News Corp described the move as “nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise” before the media group splits its publishing assets into a separate company from its Fox, Sky and Star entertainment brands. He will remain chairman of both companies, giving him continued influence over the newspapers, and chief executive of the entertainment business.
The 81-year-old’s exit from boards including News International and Times Newspaper Holdings Limited was announced to staff on Saturday in an email from Tom Mockridge, chief executive of News International. Mr Mockridge said Mr Murdoch had also resigned from more than a dozen, mostly small, subsidiary boards in the US, India and Australia.
He turned the Sun and the News of the World into tabloid market leaders, bought the Times and the Sunday Times in 1981, and fought print unions at Wapping in 1986, moves pivotal to his transformation from Australian press baron to global media mogul.
However, investigations into phone hacking, payments to officials and alleged computer hacking at the UK titles have ensnared Mr Murdoch’s wider group in the last year, shattering his political clout and prompting previously unthinkable moves, including a $10 billion share buy-back and the plan to split the company.
Speculation has been rife that News Corp could sell one or all of its UK newspapers, with some executives and Murdoch family members said to support an exit, but Mr Murdoch has said the UK titles will be included in the publishing company that he is expected to spin off in about a year.
– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012)