News Corp. Shareholder Calls for Independent Chairman

8:23 AM PST 04/03/2012 by Georg Szalai
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Christian Brothers has submitted a non-binding shareholder proposal to replace CEO Rupert Murdoch as chairman for the conglomerate's annual meeting this fall.

NEW YORK - A News Corp. shareholder has submitted an early non-binding shareholder proposal calling for the appointment of an independent chairman to replace company founder Rupert Murdoch in this role, Reuters reported.

While the voting control of Murdoch, who is chairman and CEO, and his family and allies makes any near-term changes unlikely, Christian Brothers Investment Services hopes to affect longer-term governance changes at the company. It hopes to gain more than 30 percent support for the resolution at the conglomerate's annual meeting this fall to highlight governance issues, the report said.

Critics have argued that an independent chairman would strengthen the company's corporate governance and further boost its focus on shareholders and their benefits. 

"I think a very strong vote will put them in a position where they should take some kind of action," said Julie Tanner, who oversees socially responsible investing at Christian Brothers. The report didn't say how many shares of News Corp. the group owns.

A News Corp spokesman declined to comment.

Reuters also reported that News Corp director Viet Dinh appeared on a panel on corporate boards at a Washington, D.C. event on Monday and defended his role in overseeing News Corp.'s internal probe into phone hacking allegations. Critics have highlighted that he is the godfather of one of Murdoch's grandchildren.

"The key measures beyond the technical requirements of law is how you interact, how you act as a director, that is where true independence comes from," said Dinh. "There is no obligation that we hate each other to be serving on the same board."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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