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NEW YORK – Independent board members of News Corp. seemed to further try to quell chatter late Tuesday that they are looking for a change at the top of the conglomerate amid the phone hacking scandal.
“The News Corporation board of directors was shocked and outraged by the allegations concerning the News of the World, and we are united in support of the senior management team to address these issues,” independent director Viet Dinh said in a statement on behalf of the company’s independent directors. “In no uncertain terms, the board and management team are singularly aligned and committed to doing the right thing.”
Earlier, the New York Times had quoted independent director Tom Perkins as similarly saying that independent board members were not pushing for a change at the top amid talk that News Corp. could elevate president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey to the CEO position and have Rupert Murdoch focus on the chairman title.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the independent board members have hired New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton due to what an observer said was their need for their own legal counsel in case of shareholder lawsuits amid the phone hacking situation.
The developments came on the same day as Rupert Murdoch and his son and deputy COO James Murdoch testified about the phone hacking scandal in front of a U.K. parliamentary committee.
News Corp. shares closed up 5.5 percent “as the Street rightly realized that the Parliamentary testimony from both Rupert and James Murdoch did no damage to the company and therefore to the stock,” said Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan. “And while the stock is likely to be volatile over the ensuing weeks and months (with headlines emanating from various investigations), we see more upside than downside.” As a result, he reiterated his “buy” rating and $25 target price on the company’s stock.
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