The West

Murdoch to face shareholder discontent
James and Rupert Murdoch faced a British MPs' inquiry over hacking.

A push to end Rupert Murdoch's dual role as chairman and chief executive of News Corp is gaining momentum ahead of the media mogul's annual showdown with investors.

The Australian Shareholders Association has joined the growing list of investors who will vote in favour of a motion to install an independent chairman at News Corp's annual general meeting on Wednesday morning.

The motion, put forward by institutional investor Christian Brothers Investment Services, has also gained the support of other large shareholders in the UK, US and Australia.

"It is disappointing that the company hasn't embarked on the two most important outstanding governance reforms, namely the appointment of an independent chairman and the adoption of a democratic capital structure," ASA policy and engagement coordinator Stephen Mayne said today.

News Corp's AGM, to be held in Los Angeles, is expected to be a fiery affair, with the News of the World phone hacking scandal, executive pay and corporate governance all set to be debated.

The ASA will also vote against the re-election of Mr Murdoch's sons, Lachlan and James, to the News Corp board, and the News Corp remuneration report.

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has indicated it will also oppose the re-election of James and Lachlan, as well as the re-election of News Corp chief financial officer David DeVoe and opera singer Natalie Bancroft, whose family sold its controlling stake in Dow Jones to News Corp in 2007.

Regardless of the shareholder discontent, News Corp's dual share structure, which concentrates voting power in the hands of the Murdoch family, virtually guarantees dissenting votes will fail.

The Murdoch family holds about 38 per cent of News Corp shares, and the family's key backer, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, holds a further seven per cent of shares.

News Corp closed up two cents at $24.15 while News Corp non-voting shares were up four cents at $23.75.

The West Australian

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