The two largest public pension funds in the U.S. have voted to oust Rupert Murdoch as chairman of News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWS) ahead of the company's annual shareholders meeting this week, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Shares of News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWS) closed down 0.41 percent, at $24.11 apiece, on Friday.
The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), which together control nearly $400 billion of assets, have backed a resolution calling for the New York-based media conglomerate to split the role of chairman and chief executive that Rupert Murdoch has held since founding the company, the newspaper said without citing sources.
CalPERS, the bigger of the two American funds, with $273 billion of assets under management, has said it would not back the re-election of Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, to the News Corp board, the paper said. CalSTRS, which has $153 billion under management, has voted against the re-election of every News Corp director.
CalPERS owns a 0.3 percent stake in News Corp. valued at about $113 million, while CalSTRS holds 0.2 percent valued at $83 million, Thomson Reuters data showed.
A third pension fund with $12.5 billion of assets, Calvert Investments, is also thought to have voted against the directors' re-election, the Sunday Telegraph said.
The pension funds join a growing list of institutional investors on both sides of the Atlantic and in Australia to have called for Murdoch to surrender his position.
In July, Legal & General Investment Management, The Co-operative Asset Management and Aviva were among 18 blue-chip pension funds with more than £1 trillion ($1.6 trillion) of assets among them who said they would vote against Murdoch at Tuesday’s annual general meeting amid concerns over the company’s corporate governance structure.
The meeting on Oct. 16 will be News Corp.’s biggest test since the phone-hacking and police bribery scandals erupted in the summer of 2011. It will also be the first to include resolutions against Murdoch on the proxy voting form, enabling investors to vote early and have their say without traveling to Los Angeles to cast their vote in person.
Rupert Murdoch is unlikely to be dislodged, as the Murdoch family owns around 12 percent of the company and its dual-class shareholding structure means it has nearly 40 percent of the voting rights.
Rupert Murdoch on Thursday made it clear that he had no intention of retiring, declaring on Twitter that “any shareholders with complaint should take profits and sell!”