--News Corp. shareholders back company's board
--Shareholders reject independent chairman proposal
--CEO Murdoch faces criticism, questions from investors
(Adds details and share price.)
By William Launder
News Corp.'s (NWS, NWSA) shareholders backed the company's board, including two new nominations, and struck down a proposal to elect an independent chairman.
Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch told shareholders at News Corp.'s annual meeting that all of the nominated board members had been approved, based on a preliminary count of shareholder votes. A final count will be reported in a coming regulatory filing, News Corp. said.
News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of this newswire and The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Murdoch also said a proposal to elect an independent chairman, which would have stripped him of his dual role as chairman and chief executive, hadn't passed the shareholders' vote.
Several proxy advisory firms and investors had called on News Corp. to nominate an independent chairman. But Mr. Murdoch and his family control roughly 40% of the voting shares, so it is unlikely any changes to the board will be approved without the family's support.
In September, News Corp. nominated former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to join as directors. Mr. Murdoch's sons, Lachlan and James, also are on the board.
Mr. Murdoch said News Corp. expects to provide more details by year end on the planned management and board member appointments tied to the company's split.
News Corp. said in June that it would spin off its journalism, publishing and education assets from its faster-growing media and entertainment businesses. That process is expected to take at least a year.
Mr. Murdoch, who presided over the annual meeting in Los Angeles, faced questions and criticism from shareholders about the company's ethical standards related to the phone-hacking scandal. In his opening remarks, Mr. Murdoch said "serious wrongdoings" had occurred at the U.K. newspaper business, and noted steps taken to improve ethical standards, such as bolstering its compliance division.
News Corp.'s Class A shares closed 1.7% higher at $24.77; the shares have gained more than 44% over the last year.
-John Jannarone contributed to this article.
Write to William Launder at email@example.com
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