Murdoch comes out fighting to shareholders

Editor | 18-10-2012

After a year of being pummelled due to the phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp has made an impassioned and unapologetic plea to the company’s shareholders to keep faith with the management team who, he says, continues to deliver.

As he began the 2012 AGM, Murdoch acknowledged what he conceded was “serious wrongdoing” at News Corp for whom he said had suffered “a difficult period”. Yet if anyone was expecting a mea culpa it was not being delivered to the shareholders who he reminded that News Corp stock was nearly 45% up on the same period in 2011 despite the phone-hacking scandal and the subsequent failure to take full control of the cash machine that is BSkyB. Indeed, he said: “Notwithstanding our success, our company is undervalued.”

In addition to the rising stock price, Murdoch highlighted the fact that News Corp's adjusted total segment operating income increased 13% to $5.6 billion over the year, with adjusted earnings per share growing 19% to $1.41 per share. The year also saw the purchase of Fox Pan American Sports, the sale of NDS and agreements to purchase the remaining ownership stake of ESPN STAR Sports in India, and Consolidated Media Holdings in Australia.

Expressing his view that the market “likes the work” News Corp was doing “and has confidence in our future”, Murdoch pointed out to the floor that News Corp faced its biggest potential change and opportunity in the coming year, namely the split of the business into two separate, publicly-traded companies, one dedicated to media and one to entertainment.

“With this separation, we will free up each company to better deliver on its promises to customers across the globe. As we do, it will also mean unlocking more value for our shareholders,” Murdoch added. Murdoch said he expected to be in a position to give more details about the executive management structures and Board memberships by the end of the year.