Rupert Murdoch resigns from boards of UK newspapers

Published: 22nd July 2012 10:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2012 10:21 AM   |  A+A-

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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has resigned as a director of a number of News Corp. boards overseeing his Britain newspapers, a spokeswoman confirmed Saturday. He also quit from some of the media company's subsidiary boards in the United States.

Murdoch stepped down this past week as a director of NI Group, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp. Investments in the U.K., said Daisy Dunlop, spokeswoman for News Corp.'s British arm, News International. The companies oversee The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times.

It was not immediately clear which of News Corp.'s U.S. boards Murdoch had left. Britain's Telegraph newspaper, which first reported the news late Saturday, said those details had not yet been disclosed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

News International sought to play down the significance of the resignations, saying in a statement that "this is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split."

That was a reference to News Corp.'s announcement June 28 that it would separate its publishing business, which includes The Wall Street Journal, from its much more profitable media and entertainment business — forming two distinct, publicly traded companies. Under those proposed changes, Murdoch, 81, will chair both of the companies, although he would continue as chief executive of the media and entertainment company only.

Saturday's announcement suggests that Murdoch may be distancing himself from his British newspaper interests, which have been shaken to the core by a widespread phone hacking scandal.

The scandal erupted anew last year when it emerged that Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid had systematically hacked voicemails of politicians and celebrities. The revelations have rocked Britain's establishment and triggered three parallel police investigations that have resulted in more than 40 arrests. Illegal eavesdropping allegations at the News of the World led to the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, then-CEO of News International, who has been accused of perverting justice in the scandal.

Murdoch and his son, James, both had to testify in front of a parliamentary committee probing the allegations. The committee declared the elder Murdoch unfit to run an international business.

James Murdoch had already resigned as chairman of News International.

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