Rupert Murdoch Resignation Part of 'Corporate Housecleaning,' Says News Int'l

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Ahead of News Corp split, founder and chairman reportedly leaves director's posts in the U.K. and the U.S.

Ahead of a plan to split News Corp. into two, separately traded public companies, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has quit as a director of several of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries.

Over 33 years, Murdoch has built News Corp. into one of the world’s premier media companies and he has remained intimately involved in running the organization. Still, a spokeswoman has been downplaying Murdoch’s decision in statements to several reporters.

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“This is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split,” the spokeswoman told the Associated Press in London on Saturday.

According to several published reports, Murdoch has relinquished his directorship at NI Group, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp. Investments in the U.K. His resignation removes him from the boardrooms that control The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers, among other entities.

News Corp. did not issue a press release announcing the changes and on Saturday there were no publicly available filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing them, either.

Murdoch has also quit the boards of some U.S.-based News Corp. subsidiaries, according the Telegraph in London, though it’s not yet known which ones and News Corp. didn’t respond to The Hollywood Reporter’s request for details.

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“Murdoch has repeatedly insisted that he remains committed to the UK newspaper business… but his surprise resignation of directorships on both sides of the Atlantic has raised expectations that he is gearing up to sever all ties with the company,” the Telegraph opined.

News Corp’s. plan is to create a company housing the publishing assets and a far more valuable one containing the television and movie businesses. While it's presumed both will be publicly traded entities, some analysts are predicting that Murdoch will instead purchase the publishing company outright, a theory that makes sense if investors appear uninterested in buying shares of a company that offers little growth potential and is still plagued by scandal.

It’s also possible, though, that the move by Murdoch is a signal he has become disenchanted with newspaper publishing and therefore is distancing himself from it, an unlikely scenario, though, considering News Corp’s. hard-fought battle to acquire Dow Jones & Co., parent of the Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion a relatively short five years ago.