Rupert Murdoch quits boards of British papers

Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:17pm EDT
 
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By Mark Hosenball and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - News Corp's Rupert Murdoch has stepped down from a string of boards overseeing the Sun, Times and Sunday Times newspapers in Britain, the company said in an internal memo on Saturday.

The company described the news as a "corporate housecleaning exercise" linked to the announcement in June that News Corp would split into two separate companies: a smaller publishing division and a much larger entertainment and TV group.

But the news is also likely to reignite speculation that News Corp could be preparing to sell the titles, following a phone hacking scandal at the now defunct mass-circulation News of the World that has damaged Murdoch's reputation in Britain.

The revelations of sustained criminality prompted an influential parliamentary committee in May to describe Murdoch as unfit to run a major company.

James Murdoch, who was chairman of the British newspaper arm News International when the revelations emerged, has already quit the British newspapers and moved to the United States.

"Last week, Mr. Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small subsidiary boards, both in the UK and U.S. This is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split," a spokeswoman said.

As part of the plan, the $53 billion media conglomerate will be split into two publicly traded companies, with the Murdoch family retaining control of both.

"I wanted to let you know that Rupert Murdoch has resigned as director of a number of companies, including NI Group Limited, known to most of you as News International, and Times Newspapers Holdings Limited," Tom Mockridge, the head of News International, said in the email, seen by Reuters.   Continued...

 
CEO of News Corp Rupert Murdoch attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart