UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Capital....US Unions Launch Shareholder Attack on Murdoch

US unions pension and investment funds and some public sector pension funds have launched an attack on Rupert Murdoch and other executives of News International. Demonstrating the power of workers capital to challenge the people who manage the companies we own.

Share owners led by Amalgamated Bank the US labour movement’s investment bank, trustee for several LongView investment funds, along with Central Laborers Pension Fund and other public pension funds have filed a legal proceedings against the company’s board. http://www.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/2092940/schemes-sue-news-corp

In addition to pre-existing allegations of abuse by News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, the amended complaint addresses revelations involving News Corp.'s tabloid Sunday paper, News of the World, whose editors admitted to hacking the mobile phones of a raft of public officials, celebrities, members of the royal family and 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler.

They allege that because the board did not intervene when it learned of these problems years ago, News Corporation was forced to close the News of the World. The 168-year-old title was the largest-circulation English language newspaper in the world.

Pension schemes and other institutional investors have filed an amended complaint alleging "rampant nepotism" and "failed corporate governance" at News Corp. in light of the ongoing British phone hacking scandal. The latest allegations supplement a lawsuit originally filed in May 2011 in Delaware Court of Chancery.

Shareholders challenged News Corp.'s $615m purchase earlier this year of Shine Group a UK film and TV production company run and majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elizabeth Murdoch, whose windfall share of the sale came to $250m.The shareholder group accuses News Corp.'s board of failing to exercise proper oversight and take sufficient action since news of the hacking first surfaced at its subsidiary nearly six years ago.

It is thought as many as 4,000 individuals may have been the target of unlawful phone call intercepts, including British soldiers killed in Afghanistan and victims of terrorist attacks.

In what the New York Times called "a statement of strikingly self-critical apology," News Corp. executive James Murdoch - son of company chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch - admitted that News of the World had "failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoings that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose".

James Murdoch also acknowledged he personally approved the payment of nearly £2m ($3m) to silence two lawsuits against the company and admitted that "I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret".

"These revelations should not have taken years to uncover and stop," the shareholders argue in their complaint. "(They) show a culture run amok within News Corporation and a Board that provides no effective review or oversight."

Shareholders are seeking to block News Corp. from adding Elizabeth Murdoch to the company's board of directors, and to put an end to Rupert Murdoch's use of company assets to serve personal and family agendas, without regard for public shareholders, said a release from Grant & Eisenhofer.

If you are a member of a pension scheme with an investment fund the LGPS for example it is highly likely that you are a share owner as well. You may want to ask what your pension fund is doing to rescue your company from the damaging control of Rupert Murdoch and his family!