21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA:US), the film and television company controlled by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, received stockholder approval to move ahead with plans to cease trading of its shares in Australia.
Class B shareholders, the only group with voting rights, approved the proposal, Murdoch said today at special investor meeting in New York. The measure passed by about a four-to-one margin, Fox said in a regulatory (FOXA:US) filing.
The company plans to make its official request for removal from the Australian Securities Exchange next week, with the delisting likely to take place by May 8, according to regulatory filings.
Murdoch is delisting Fox shares in Australia, his birthplace, after cleaving off his New York-based film and TV unit from his newspaper and publishing business that operates under News Corp. News Corp., which retained most of the assets in Australia, will continue to trade in the country.
“Today we are here to consider a further step in the evolution of 21st Century Fox,” Murdoch, 83, said today at the meeting.
Fox Class A, the nonvoting stock, was little changed at $32.73 at the close in New York. The stock has declined 6.9 percent this year.
Exiting the Australian exchange (FOXA:US) will simplify the media company’s capital structure and increase the stock’s liquidity, Fox said in January. Holders of shares listed in Australia will be able to switch to the company’s Nasdaq-listed stock.
The change may allow Murdoch and his family to vote more of their 39.4 percent voting stake (FOX:US), according to a person with knowledge of the decision, as some Australian institutions divest the stock from their funds.
Fox had 798.5 million Class B shares (FOXA:US) outstanding as of Jan. 31, according to filings.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission limits TV station owners to less than 25 percent foreign control. To comply, Fox suspends some voting rights for non-U.S. stockholders. The Murdoch family trust in the past agreed to limit its voting stake to be proportional.
Murdoch started his media empire in Australia after inheriting regional publishing assets from his father. In 1985, he became a U.S. citizen as he sought to add TV assets and in 2004 moved the media company to the U.S.
Fox, the owner of a Hollywood film and television studio, Fox broadcasting and cable channels F/X and Fox News, split from Murdoch’s News Corp. publishing business last year.
The Australian TV operations stayed with News Corp., leaving Fox with less than 2 percent of its revenue and few employees in the country.
Murdoch, who is chairman and chief executive officer, and his family own about 315 million Class B shares (FOXA:US), giving them effective control of the company.
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