$1.6trn investor group seeks independent News Corp. chair

Letter to Rupert Murdoch sent by 18 “disenfranchised” investors

A group of 18 global institutional investors with combined assets of more than $1.6trn (€1.3trn) has written to News Corp. in support of a shareholder resolution seeking an independent chair.

The media giant, which is planning to restructure into two separate groups, has a two-tier shareholding structure.

The investors, which hold a combined 13.4m News Corp Class A shares, have written to the News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch backing a resolution filed by Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) and members of the UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF).

Among the signatories are Swedish state fund Första AP-fonden (AP4), the Connecticut State Pension Fund, the Lancashire County Pension Fund, MN Services, Robeco and Railpen Investments (full list below).

Class A holders can’t vote on the motion – which follows the phone hacking scandal last year – due to the dual share structure. The company’s annual meeting is expected in October.

“We believe it is important for News Corp. to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance in order to protect the value of our investment,” the letter states.

Last year, CBIS proposed a rare motion from the floor of News Corp.’s AGM seeking the same reform.

“In light of the events of the past year, many News Corp shareholders believe that the board would benefit from a greater degree of independence,” said LAPFF Chairman Ian Greenwood.The forthcoming restructuring was a “golden opportunity” for governance reform.

Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS, said the letter was a way for “disenfranchised” Class A shareholders to make their voices heard.

“It is important to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance”

“By appointing a qualified Independent Chair, News Corp can improve oversight of management, business risk and the interests of all shareholders,” Tanner said in a statement.

AP4, Aviva Investors, Calvert Investments, Connecticut State Pension Fund, The Co-operative Asset Management, F&C Management Ltd., Lancashire County Pension Fund, Legal & General Investment Management, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Maryknoll Sisters, Mercy Investment Services, MN Services, North East Scotland Pension Fund, Robeco, RPMI Railpen Investments, SEIU Pension Plans Master Trust, Vereinigung Institutionelle Privatanleger (VIP), Wespath Investment Management. Link to letter