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James Murdoch to Quit Board of Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline to Focus on News Corp. Roles

DOWN: James Murdoch
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The son of Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of the entertainment conglomerate, had joined the board in 2009 in a move seen as giving him additional management experience.

NEW YORK - News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch is stepping down from his seat on the board of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline to focus on his roles at the media conglomerate and U.K. satellite TV firm BSkyB, which it controls, amid the continuing phone hacking scandal.

The son of News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has decided not to stand for re-election to the board at Glaxo's annual shareholder meeting this year, Glaxo said Friday. "James has taken this decision to focus on his current duties as non-executive chairman of BSkyB, and following his decision to re-locate to the United States," explained Glaxo chairman Sir Christopher Gent.

A spokesman for the drug company told the Wall Street Journal that Murdoch himself decided to resign. Asked about the phone hacking scandal, he said that "our position hasn't changed," with Glaxo believing that "the full facts" must be established "and investigations allowed to take place and come to conclusion."

The Murdoch son, who also serves as chairman and CEO, international at News Corp., was scheduled to relocate to the U.S. last after being elevated to the deputy COO role, but the phone hacking issue has delayed the move.

James Murdoch had joined the Glaxo board in 2009 in a move seen as getting him additional management experience as he was being groomed as News Corp.'s potential future CEO, but president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey has taken a stronger role since the phone hacking scandal. Board jobs entail regular meetings, with observers suggesting James Murdoch wanted to focus on the business at hand in his News Corp. roles.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank James for the very strong contribution he has made since he was appointed in 2009 and wish him well for the future,” Glaxo's Gent said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai