Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Abandons Australia ListingAndy Fixmer
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. will delist its shares from the Australian stock market to boost liquidity on the Nasdaq market as the billionaire further distances himself from the country of his birth.
21st Century Fox, based in New York, plans to ask shareholders to approve the move at a special meeting in March or April, the company said in a statement today. A delisting could be complete by June, the company said.
Exiting the Australian exchange would simplify the media company’s capital structure and increase the liquidity of its stock, Fox said. Holders of shares listed in Australia will be able to switch to the company’s Nasdaq-listed stock, it said.
The change may allow Murdoch and his family to vote more of their 39.4 percent voting stake, according to a person with knowledge of the decision, as some Australian institutions divest the stock from their funds.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission limits television station owners such as Fox to less than 25 percent foreign control. To comply, Fox suspends some voting rights for non-U.S. stockholders. The Murdoch family trust agreed to limit its voting stake to be proportional.
Julie Henderson, a spokeswoman for Fox, declined to comment.
Murdoch, 82, started his media empire in Australia after inheriting regional publishing assets from his father. In 1985 he became a U.S. citizen as he sought to add television assets and in 2004 moved the media company to the U.S.
Fox, the owner of a Hollywood film and television studio, Fox broadcasting and cable channels F/X and Fox News, split from Murdoch’s News Corp. publishing business last year.
The Australian TV operations stayed with News Corp., leaving Fox with only a small portion of its revenue and employees in the country. News Corp. will remain listed in Australia, the company said in a separate statement.
Fox fell 2.6 percent to $33.50 at the close in New York. The non-voting Class A shares advanced 56 percent in 2013. Murdoch, who is chairman and chief executive officer, and his family own about 315 million Class B shares, giving them effective control of the company.