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新闻集团深陷泥潭,公司董事抽身退步

Eleanor Bloxham 2011年08月03日

新闻集团一度要求董事会成员必须持有公司股票,但是现在这一要求已不复存在。而且,其中一位董事已经售出手头所持的股份。

    默多克父子正面临议会质询,人们开始质疑:新闻集团(News Corp)董事会此前对电话窃听丑闻了解多少?又是何时才意识到问题的严重性?

    新闻集团董事托马斯•珀金斯在接受《纽约时报》(New York Times)采访时称:“独立董事‘对最近10天爆出的窃听丑闻的严重性深感震惊’。”

    今年七月的窃听丑闻同样也令珀金斯感到震惊,但是今年早些时候,他便已经将一直持有的新闻集团股票售出。

    新闻集团2008、2009和2010年的年度委托书显示,珀金斯一直持有该公司的A、B级股票:包括6,000支A级股票和21,750支B级股票。

    但是,今年情况发生了变化——珀金斯不再持有新闻集团的股票。

    美国证券交易委员会(SEC)的文件显示,今年2月8日,珀金斯减持了一半B级股票;并在5月19日,将其持有的剩余A、B级股票全部售出。

    目前,董事会对窃听丑闻惊诧不已,因为正如珀金斯对《纽约时报》所说,之前没有太多关于窃听的讨论:“‘大约两三年或更早之前,董事会确实曾就窃听进行过几次审议’;而且,董事会‘全力支持最高管理层’。”

    最近的三份年度委托书显示,新闻集团的董事会成员约翰•桑顿始终未持有公司股票。而董事会成员韦亚特•丁恩只持有较少数额的股票。

    关于支持股票和支持管理层是否具有紧密联系,只有时间能说明一切。根据公司的2008年委托书,此前,公司确实存在针对董事的“股票所有权要求”。但是,2009年或2010年的委托书中却删除了这些要求。

    接下来谁会买进或卖出股票?请密切关注美国证券交易委员会的文件。

    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 乔树静)

    As the Murdochs face questioning, concerns have arisen over what the News Corp board knew about the scandal and when it began to realize that these issues were serious.

    Tom Perkins, a News Corp (NWS) director told the New York Times, "independent board members 'were stunned to discover the magnitude of the scandal over the last 10 days.'"

    Although the magnitude stunned him in July, Perkins sold his shares in News Corp earlier this year after maintaining consistent holdings in the company's stock.

    The News Corp 2008, 2009, and 2010 annual proxy filings showed that Perkins had consistent holdings in class A and class B stock: 6,000 shares of the company's class A stock and 21,750 shares of its class B stock.

    But that changed this year -- he no longer holds those News Corp shares.

    On February 8, Perkins sold half his class B shares and on May 19, he sold his remaining class A and class B shares, according to filings with the SEC.

    Perhaps the board is so surprised about the scandal now, because as Perkins told the New York Times, there haven't been that many discussions about the hacking: "'The board did discuss this several times two or three years ago, maybe earlier,'" and "the board 'is fully supportive of the top management.'"

    John Thornton, another News Corp board member, doesn't hold any shares in the company's stock and hasn't according to the last three annual proxies. Viet Dinh, another director, holds a relatively small number of shares.

    Only time will tell whether support of the stock and support of the management go hand in hand. The company used to have "equity ownership requirements" for directors, according to the company's 2008 proxy. Those requirements were not included in the company's 2009 or 2010 proxy reports.

    Keep your eyes on the SEC filings to see who will be buying or selling next.

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

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