Scandal hits Murdoch bonuses

COLIN KRUGER
Last updated 17:29 05/09/2012

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Senior News Corp executives, including Rupert and James Murdoch, saw millions cut from their annual bonuses last year as a result of the phone hacking scandal engulfing the media group's UK newspapers but the two Murdochs were still paid around US$47 million ($59 million) between them for the year.

Rupert Murdoch was paid just over US$30m, down nearly US$3m on the prior year, while James was paid US$16.8m, more than US$1m less than the previous year as more than US$5m was cut from the bonuses of the company's top four executives.

In the company's annual financial report today, the company said that while these executives "made contributions to drive the overall success of the business", the remuneration committee balanced this with the allegations of misconduct in the UK prior to the 2012 financial year.

"The compensation committee believed that management should share responsibility for the impact of these matters on the company."

The attempts at appeasement are not expected to spare Mr Murdoch another acrimonious shareholders meeting next month.

Last year there were significant votes lodged against the re-election of James and Lachlan Murdoch to the board, and the remuneration of the company's executives.

For this year's meeting, to be held in Los Angeles on October 16, several investors will be putting forward resolutions for the appointment of an independent chairman, and elimination of the company's dual-share structure which has ensured the Murdoch family control 40 per cent of votes despite owning just 12 per cent of the company.

Investors are also seeking a simple majority vote on all resolutions. News Corp has said it will oppose these resolutions.

Australian shareholders who hold Class B common stock - which hold the voting rights - will be impeded by the fact that News Corp suspended 50 per cent of the voting rights of non US shareholders in April this year to comply with US restrictions on foreign ownership of broadcast licences.

Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch are among 14 directors seeking re-election next month including two new faces, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and former US secretary of labour Elaine Chao.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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