James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and son of Chairman Rupert Murdoch, sold $25.1 million of nonvoting shares in the company, capitalizing on a 65 percent gain in the stock over the past year.
Murdoch, 40, sold 752,000 Class A shares at $33.32, representing more than a fifth of his stake, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange filing. Murdoch still owns 1,644 Class B shares, which have voting rights in News Corp.
The sale comes ahead of a proposed split of News Corp.’s entertainment assets from the declining publishing business, where earnings sagged 35 percent in the most recent quarter from the year earlier. The company’s lucrative cable-network division rose 17 percent in sales for the period.
This is Murdoch’s second-biggest stock sale in the past six months. The executive, who made $16.8 million in salary, bonus and stock awards last year, made a gift in December of 402,260 Class A shares to his charitable foundation Quadrivium, which deals in conservation and educational issues in developing nations. Those shares were valued at $13.5 million at yesterday’s closing price of $33.48.
Separately, Rupert Murdoch recently bought a vineyard in the Los Angeles area that was listed at $29.5 million.