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Murdoch family survives no-confidence vote

By Giulia Cambieri

The 15 proposed members of News Corp’s board, including chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, have been either elected or re-elected at the company’s annual general meeting, which was held in Los Angeles on 21 October.

Shareholders also approved the executive compensation packages, which includes a $12.5 million (€9 million) cash bonus for Rupert in 2011, while a motion to separate the chairman and chief executive roles was rejected.

News Corp has not yet published the complete breakdown of votes, making it currently impossible to determine the full extent of the protest vote, which gained momentum as the illegal practices of the London-based, now defunct, newspaper News of the World were revealed during the summer.

In recent weeks, some of News Corp’s biggest shareholders announced their intention to vote against the re-election of most of the board, including Rupert and his two sons.

These included Hermes, which manages BT’s pension fund, and America's two largest public pension funds, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

However, Murdoch and his sons were always unlikely to be voted off the board, because of the dual-share system in place at the company. Under this, the family controls about 40% of the media conglomerate’s voting rights, despite owning only 12% of News Corp's equity.

The Murdochs were also backed by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, News Corp’s second biggest shareholder with about 7% of the company’s voting shares.

During the meeting, 80-year-old Rupert said he is "personally determined" to “right the wrongs” that were committed by News International, New Corp's UK division, but added that the media company has been under "understandable scrutiny and unfair attack”.