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默多克何去何从?

Eleanor Bloxham 2011年07月21日

新闻集团正在继续遭受一轮接一轮的狂轰滥炸。面对这种情况,鲁伯特•默多克是否应该辞去CEO或者董事长的职位,或者直接下岗?

    随着时间的推移,鲁伯特•默多克建立的媒体帝国在丑闻泥潭中愈陷愈深。昨天,默多克出席了英国议会的听证会,在此之前,对于默多克是否会辞去CEO一职(可能由COO蔡斯•凯里接任),媒体众说纷纭。 这位身陷困境的媒体大亨将何去何从?

    上周,在发给道琼斯公司(Dow Jones)员工的电子邮件中,默多克放下自己的架子写道:“我只强调一点——新闻集团(News Corporation)并不是鲁伯特•默多克。”这与其一直以来表现出的英雄形象形成鲜明对比。

    目前,默多克在新闻集团担任CEO兼董事长,在公司拥有约40%的投票权。

    但鉴于在他的统治下,新闻集团近年来所遭遇的种种困境,他是否应该辞去CEO或者董事长得职位,甚至辞去全部两个职位?

    很明显,公司内部需要进行彻底整顿,董事会需要换血。如果董事会对于多年来的指责无动于衷,那说明它失职。

    而对于新闻集团而言,这个问题更加严重。因为作为股东,默多克控制了公司的投票权。这么大的权利有何制约?少数股东的权利是否得到了保护?

    通常在危机来临时,人们便会想起是否应将CEO与董事长这两个职位分开的问题(即两个职位分别由不同人担任)。【比如美国银行(Bank of America)的肯•刘易斯】在目前的情况下,新闻集团可以重新任命一位董事长,或者默多克可以辞去CEO一职,只担任董事长一职。

    但是如果默多克继续担任董事长,他的独立性却会引起质疑。

    全美公司董事协会(National Association of Corporate Directors)创始人兼名誉主席约翰•M•纳什(完全披露:纳什曾在笔者公司任职)认为,董事会所应做的不仅仅是将董事长与CEO的职位分离。他表示:“董事长也不应该由前CEO担任,”因为这会削弱公司的治理结构。

    那默多克担任CEO又如何?

    纳什认为,暂且不提新闻集团所面临的困境;单就实现公司良好治理普遍所需的条件来说,CEO不应该加入任何董事会,包括他自己公司的董事会。

    纳什表示,CEO可以参加董事会会议,但“不应享有投票权” 。

    他认为,明确谁是“受雇的职业杀手”,谁负责主持会议,又由谁来掌控CEO(的行为),这对于董事会的效力至关重要。CEO通常难以区分自己在董事会中的角色与他们的管理层成员的身份。

    笔者曾经采访过不在公司董事会任职的CEO,询问他们对此作何感想,他们都表示对这种安排并不介意。他们认为这种安排不但非常有效,而且明确了不同职位的职责划分。

    在标准普尔500强(S&P 500)公司中,CEO不在董事会任职的公司包括O'Reilly汽车零部件销售公司、钛金属公司(Titanium Metals Corporation)、电玩站公司(GameStop)、泰森食品(Tyson)与莎莉集团(Sara Lee)。

    如果CEO默多克能放弃他的董事会席位,或许新闻集团可以成立一个真正独立的董事会。(默多克可以继续担任CEO,但必须放弃其董事会投票权。)

    之后,新组建的董事会就能开始着手确定一系列关键事务,比如CEO的继任等,展开适当的内部调查,确定相关人员的去留。

    当然,这一切可能都不会发生;但危机大幕已经拉开,一切皆有可能。

    本文作者爱丽诺•布洛斯罕是董事会咨询机构价值联盟和公司治理联盟(The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance,http://thevaluealliance.com)首席执行官。

    (翻译 刘进龙)

    With each passing day, it looks like things are only getting worse for the media empire that Rupert Murdoch built. And with mixed reports over whether Murdoch will step down as CEO (potentially leaving COO Chase Carey to take the reins) in the run-up to his testimony before parliament today, what will be this beleaguered media mogul's fate?

    In contrast to his larger than life image and the reality of the power he wields, last week in an email to Dow Jones employees, Murdoch wrote: "Let me emphasize one point -- News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch."

    Currently, Murdoch holds both the CEO and chair positions at News Corp (NWS) along with approximately 40% of the voting rights of the firm.

    But given all that has occurred at News Corp in the recent years under his reign, should he resign as CEO or chair or both?

    Clearly, the company needs to clean house and update its board. Boards that fail to look into serious allegations that drag over many years are not doing their job.

    At News Corp, the issue is even more critical because of the control Murdoch exercises as a shareholder over voting rights at the firm. What are the checks on so much power and the rights of minority shareholders for protection?

    The question of whether to separate the CEO and chair positions (so two, separate people occupy those posts) often arises when crisis hits. (Think Ken Lewis at Bank of America (BAC).) Under such a scenario, a new chair could be appointed -- or Murdoch could vacate the CEO slot and become the chair.

    But as a chair, Murdoch's independence would be a problem.

    John M. Nash, founder and president emeritus of the National Association of Corporate Directors (Full disclosure: Nash has done work for me and my firm), believes that boards should do more than just separate the chair and CEO positions. "Chairs should not be the former CEO," as it weakens the governance structure, he says.

    What about the CEO spot for Murdoch?

    As a general matter of good governance, regardless of News Corp's woes, Nash thinks that CEOs should not sit on any board, including their own company's board.

    The CEO can attend board meetings, but "shouldn't have a vote," Nash says.

    He believes it is important to boardroom effectiveness to be clear about who's the "hired gun", who runs the meeting, and who is holding the CEO accountable (for his or her actions). CEOs often have a difficult time separating their role on the board from their role as a member of management.

    When I've asked CEOs who don't sit on their company's board what they think about it, they tell me they don't mind the arrangement at all. It works well for them and does bring clarity related to who is accountable to whom.

    Examples of S&P 500 companies with CEOs who do not sit on their company's board include O'Reilly Automotive, Titanium Metals Corporation, GameStop, Tyson, and Sara Lee.

    Perhaps if CEO Murdoch gave up his board seat, a truly independent board could be installed. (Murdoch could stay on as CEO without a board vote.)

    Then, that newly constituted board could go about the business of making decisions on critical items like CEO succession, conduct a proper internal investigation, and determine who stays and who goes.

    Sure, it may not happen, but anything is possible as this saga unfolds.

    Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com), a board advisory firm.

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