Clan Murdoch Hang-On to Power With Poison Pill

23 October 2006

NEW YORK: News Corporation's controlling family on Friday indicated its intention to hang onto its minority dominance of the global media empire via the so-called 'poison pill' defense.

The controversial stratagem came into play two years ago when cable entrepreneur John Malone amassed a 19% stake in NewsCorp - a course which if pursued could have wrested control from Clan Murdoch which holds a commanding but minority interest of 29.5%

Surprisingly, given the wave of public antipathy towards the poison pill maneuver, the Murdoch faction managed to garner 57% of the votes cast at NewsCorp's annual meeting, enabling the strategy to remain in place for another year.

However, Rupert Murdoch told the meeting that a deal with Malone's holding company Liberty Media could be on the radar. "If Liberty is to be believed, we're on track for a pretty quick resolution of the matter," opined the patriarch.

The meeting also revealed a significant undercurrent of anxiety among US right-wing political activists, some of whom had acquired NewsCorp shares just to attend the meeting.

The nervy rightists, a-twitch at NewsCorp's recent hosting of a fundraising event for Senator Hilary Clinton - a potential frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination - repeatedly questioned Murdoch as to his current political inclinations.

But they were no match for the seasoned old warhorse, who while dismissing the fundraiser as a mere "courtesy", hailed Clinton as "a very intelligent and smart, charming politician".

And, true to his instinct for playing-off one side against the other, the patriarch declared: "I'm not a different person than I was last year, or the year before."

Of which statement, make what you will.

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