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News Corp. Should Split Murdoch’s Role, Investor Group Says

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Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp., the media company under fire for a phone-hacking scandal at one of its London newspapers, should separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer and make other changes, an investor group said.

The company, controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, should have an independent chair, the investor group said in the letter to the company obtained by Bloomberg News. The group, represented by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, includes Trillium Asset Management and Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, and owns 700,000 non-voting News Corp. shares.

News Corp. is facing investor criticism amid the phone-hacking scandal which escalated on July 4, when the Guardian newspaper reported that News of the World had accessed the voice mail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler. The controversy has prompted the resignations of two executives, the shutdown of the 168-year-old newspaper and the termination of News Corp.’s bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc.

The majority of News Corp.’s board, which is meeting today, should consist of independent directors, the investor group said. It also said News Corp. should eliminate its dual-class stock structure.

Last week, an investor group including Wespath Investment Management asked to meet with News Corp.’s lead independent director on ways to restore investor confidence. The group, which holds 1.11 million Class A shares and 201,000 of the Class B voting stock, cited “several areas of concern, including dual chairman/CEO role, a high number of inside or affiliated directors, and a dual share class structure.”

News Corp., the New York-based owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, rose 93 cents to $14.55 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The Class A shares are little changed this year.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. units in providing financial news and information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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