UK pension fund chief heads mission to unseat Murdoch

The British pension fund chief leading the bid to force Rupert Murdoch to give up his joint role as chairman and chief executive of New Corporation will personally tell the company to change its ways at what is set to be another tricky annual meeting.

Ian Greenwood, chairman of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, has flown to Los Angeles for tomorrow's annual meeting to call for Mr Murdoch to quit the chairman's role in favour of an independent figure.

Mr Greenwood insisted to The Independent that there is "nothing personal" about the dissenting motion that has been put before shareholders.

He said: "Rupert Murdoch has created a lot of value for a lot of years and one can understand his feeling for the company but he and his family have to realise that when a company is owned more than 50 per cent by other people, that changes the family's relationship to it.

"Ours is not a personal or political view. We were talking before all this controversy went on," he added, referring to the phone hacking scandal. "I think the unkindest thing I plan to say is that Mr Murdoch is not as young as he once was.

"We think you should have a separate chairman to run the board and the governance, and a separate chief executive to run the company. That's particularly important when you have a single big shareholder. An independent chairman reassures a company that it is acting in the interests of all shareholders."

Members of the LAPF could hold as much as 1 per cent of News Corp shares across a variety of funds. It has been working with other activist US shareholders such as the Christian Brothers and Calpers, the California pension fund.

The motion simply calls on the board to "look at" separating the roles of chairman and chief executive.

However, with the Murdochs holding 40 per cent of the voting shares, although only 12 per cent of the total number, it will struggle to pass.

Close to a third of shareholders voted against the re-elections of Mr Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan as News Corp directors last year.

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