Mercury Rising 鳯女

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James Murdoch steps down from press wing of News

Posted by Charles II on February 29, 2012

And evidently it’s great news, because the stock is up by over 1%, continuing a long run that has included some of the most damning revelations.

Amy Thompson, Bloomberg:

Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch stepped down as executive chairman of News International almost eight months after the U.K. publishing unit was rocked by a phone-hacking scandal.

Murdoch, who has moved to News Corp.’s headquarters in New York, will assume a variety of “essential corporate leadership mandates” focusing on pay television businesses and international operations, News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said in a statement today.

James Murdoch was named News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer in March 2011. He handed News International’s CEO position to Tom Mockridge in July,

The money in NewsCorp is in electronic media. The print stuff is Rupert’s sandbox, a beloved but generally money-losing venture that NewsCorp shareholders would probably like to shut down [*]. And this step simply completes the process by which James attempts to divorce his complicity in the phone hacking/bribery scandal. We’ll see how that goes. But getting the Murdochs out of the day-to-day operations of the British press might allow that press to recover some minimal standards of behavior.

Here’s wishing that effort well.
* FT’s Lex says that the entire print business contributed 11% of operating profits before the costs of the hacking scandal. So “money-losing” is not quite right. But “marginal” is.

Added: Here’s substantiation for my claim that the shareholders are delighted that the newspapers are in trouble, Dan Sabbagh, The Guardian:

Speaking the language of Wall Street, not Fleet Street, [electronics wing boss Chase] Carey said on Tuesday that “there certainly is an awareness” that News Corporation would trade at a higher multiple to earnings if the media group did not own newspapers.

However, shareholder activists will take another run at ousting James.

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