Aussie Shareholder Bloc Fights NewsCorp's US Emigration

19 August 2004

Australian shareholders, their national pride outraged by the proposal to move the headquarters of global media company News Corporation to the USA, have dug-in their heels to resist the emigration.

The dissident Aussies are a formidable force, controlling around 30% of NewsCorp stock -- roughly equivalent to the holding through which the Murdoch family controls the media mammoth.

NewsCorp chairman/ceo Rupert Murdoch deems the stateside move vital to the raising of urgently needed funds to fuel his expansionist ambitions in China and the Far East -- and support a painful (and lossmaking) period of growth for his latest US acquisition, DirecTV [WAMN: 04-May-04].

Herein lies the tycoon's dilemma. The move is vital in order to redress NewsCorp's wan balance sheet; while equally critical is the goodwill of the Australian voting bloc -- which in an extreme scenario could wrest control of the company from the hands of the dynasty.

Hence, Murdoch has embarked on what the Financial Times dubs "a charm offensive". Given that this is a task he is rarely called upon to perform, the magnate will doubtless bite the bullet and subjugate his ego to the nobler cause of the family assets.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff