Faith-Based Shareholders Call for News Corp Board Shakeup
March 1st, 2012
The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and Christian Brothers Investment Services are calling once again for a shakeup of the Board of Directors of News Corp and the resignation of James Murdoch, son of newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch. The faith-based groups were part of an investor revolt , calling for reform of the News Corporation board at last year’s annual general meeting. Thirty five per cent of shareholders voted against James Murdoch’s re-election then, and the ICCR members are calling again for major changes on the Board.
Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI was quoted in several press stories about the need for James Murdoch’s resignation and a Board shakeup after it was announced that Murdoch was giving up his position as executive chairman of News International – the British publishing division hit by the phone-hacking scandal – and returning to New York. ” It seems to me that … either [the] Leveson enquiry or the internal enquiry from the company [may have] … turned over some new thing that has made James decide he is going to step down.” “This raises further concerns about the way this company is governed. … It is clear to us that there are too many conflicts of interest in the way this company is run.”
The shareholder campaign at NewsCorp is in keeping with investor campaigns for better governance, one element of which is separation of the Board Chair and CEO. Best practices, according to Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers, which is drafting a shareholder resolution against News Corp, is that 2/3 of Board Directors should be independent (not related by family or personal ties). Rupert Murdoch currently owns 40% of the company and is Board Chair and CEO.