UK pension funds call for James Murdoch to quit


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The Independent Online

James Murdoch faced further calls to quit the News Corp board yesterday after a shareholder activist group representing £100bn in assets said he was causing the company "significant reputational damage".

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), the majority of whose 54 members own shares in News Corp, called for an overhaul of the board, and added that Mr Murdoch's continued presence on the board was "no longer in shareholders' interest." News Corp declined to comment yesterday.

Mr Murdoch runs News Corp's operations in Europe. In the wake of the phone hacking scandal, the LAPFF circulated a briefing paper to its members advising them to oppose his re-election to the board. It also demanded a "genuinely independent chair", criticising Rupert Murdoch for holding both the chairmanship and the chief executive role.

News Corp investors will vote on whether to re-elect the Murdochs at the company's annual meeting in California later this month.

The LAPFF said its member funds "want a line drawn under the hacking". But the forum's chairman, Ian Greenwood, said it would be possible to move on only "if the board accepts the need to demonstrate real accountability. That requires a change in the structure and make-up of the board".

He concluded: "While these are difficult issues for the company to address, we believe that to secure News Corp's long-term future such reform is necessary."

The LAPFF's pension fund members met on Wednesday for a scheduled quarterly meeting, and the issue of the structure of News Corp's board was top of the agenda. One source close to the meeting said none of the members opposed the points raised in the briefing paper "and no dissenting voices were heard".