Murdoch is not the largest shareholder in NewsCorp

MUMBAI: Media baron Rupert Murdoch has been, thus far, known as the biggest share holder of NewsCorp. Turns out that he shall not be the title-holder henceforth.

According to the media reports, Murdoch no longer owns the larger economic stake in News Corp. Liberty Media's John Malone's, popularly known as Cable-TV magnate, is the larger share holder.

Though the NewsCorp executives may jocularly say that Murdoch runs the company as if it is his mom-and-pop's sweet shop, the company has been publicly traded for 24 years and has more than five billion shares outstanding and a market value exceeding $31 billion. The misconception has been prevalent so far as the septuagenarian owner has an iron grip on the company for almost 49 years. Both his authority and his strategic vision has ever been challenged.

News Corp being a U.S. public media companies has voting and nonvoting classes of stock. Under the entity Cruden Investments Pty, the Murdoch family owns 624 million, or 29.8 per cent, of the voting stock. In addition to that Murdoch and Cruden owns 220 million 'preferred' shares, or 6.8 per cent of the nonvoting stock. Malone on the other hand owns nonvoting shares.

When both the classes of shares are combined, the results show that Malone controls 18 per cent of the stock outstanding while Mr. Murdoch controls 17 per cent. That makes Malone the largest shareholder.

However as of now there aren't signs of friction between Messrs. Malone and Murdoch. Malone has always refused a board seat as it would put him in potential conflict with other investments of his, such as AOL Time Warner and Viacom.

The distinction isn't as important today, but there are several doubts raised as to who will inherit the company after him. Murdoch's sons Lachlan and James are currently holding key positions in News Corp today, but it is likely that they will be a tussle between them and the current President and COO Peter Chernin, of the Murdoch empire, for the bigger portion of the pie.

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