Super funds push for News Corp  changes
Super funds push for News Corp changes

Major Australian superannuation fund has joined a global push to end Rupert Murdoch's dual role as chairman and chief executive of News Corporation.

Industry fund First Super, which holds shares in the media giant, today backed calls by some of News Corp's overseas-based investors for the company to appoint an independent chairman.

News Corp investors will vote on the push at the company's annual general meeting in Los Angeles on October 16.

First Super chief executive Graeme Russell said News Corp needed a more independent board with an independent chairman.

"Open, transparent, representative governance is well overdue at News Corp," he said in a statement.

"The interests of minority shareholders have too often been compromised."

Leading the calls to have Mr Murdoch replaced as chairman are the US-based Christian Brothers Investment Services and Britain's Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.

They have drafted a resolution calling for an independent chairman for shareholders to vote on at the October 16 meeting.

The resolution has won the backing of British fund manager Hermes Equity Ownership Services and shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis.

There was a similar push to oust the 81-year-old mogul at News Corp's 2011 annual general meeting, but it failed to pass.

That is because although Mr Murdoch and his family hold just 12 per cent of News Corp shares, they control about 40 per cent of voting shares under the company's two-class share structure.

First Super, which has $7.1 billion funds under management and 72,000 members, also plans to vote against the re-election of four board directors, including Mr Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan Murdoch.

And it will give the thumbs down to News Corp's executive compensation report.

Mr Russell said News Corp executives were paid "outrageous amounts of money", given the aggregate pay of their top six executives was more than three times the amount received by the top nine executives at mining giant BHP Billiton.

"We don't believe that any senior executive is worth four or five hundred times the wages paid to the employees who do the work, produce the product and generate the revenue and profits," Mr Russell said.

News Corp has come under fire as a result of the phone hacking scandal that forced the closure of UK tabloid News of the World, and led to the resignation of James Murdoch as chairman of the global media giant's UK publishing arm News International.

It announced plans in late June to split the company in two, with its lucrative television and movie business hived off from its loss-making publishing operations.

News Corp shares were up 35 cents at $24.75 at 1.21pm, while its non-voting scrip was 26 cents highter at $24.45.

The West Australian

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