Australian pension fund pulls out of News Corp after failure to oust Murdoch

SYDNEY Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:54am GMT

Passers-by walk near the News Corporation building in New York June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Passers-by walk near the News Corporation building in New York June 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian pension fund said on Thursday that it would sell down its A$7 million (4.6 million pounds) stake in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O), following the failure of proposals for a more independent board at the media empire.

Last October, Rupert Murdoch survived a second attempt to oust him as chairman of News Corp, defeating critics who said his family wielded too much control over the company.

First Super, an A$1.7 billion pension fund in Australia, said it had asked its fund managers to sell News Corp shares over the next few months, as the lack of a more independent board meant inadequacies of the governance structure and posed "unacceptable" risks for investors.

"These issues are apparently of no concern to Rupert Murdoch, so our Board decided to take his advice and sell down our shareholding," Michael O'Connor, the fund's co-chair, said in a statement.

News Corp shares have gained more than 40 percent in the past year, and the company announced a plan to split into two businesses, one for entertainment and one for publishing, a move to boost the value of its film and television assets.

"Certainly the timing has been good for us, but clearly we are a long-term investor as a superannuation fund and we take a long-term view," O'Connor told Reuters.

Australia has the world's fourth-largest fund management market, mainly because of the nation's A$1.3 trillion superannuation system, which ensures a steady flow of retirement savings into the market. ($1 = 0.9516 Australian dollars)

(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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