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Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 12 News List

News Corp announcement of primary share listing in US surprises investors


Media magnate Rupert Murdoch's global News Corp empire shocked Australian investors yesterday by announcing its shares will have a primary listing on the US stock market instead of the Australian exchange by year's end.

A primary listing in the US is expected to significantly increase the international media company's shareholder base and stimulate demand for its shares, the company said in a statement.

The company already is listed in both the US and Australia -- where Murdoch's family launched the empire -- as well as in London, but currently has its main listing in Australia.

News Corp said it plans to remain part of Australian Stock Exchange indexes and hasn't changed its commitment to its Australian operations, which include a string of major newspapers.

The company is effectively already run from the US, where Murdoch and other senior executives are based.

However, it has retained its links with its Australian heritage, continuing to hold annual general meetings in the South Australian capital of Adelaide, where it has its registered office.

A formal shift of its incorporation to the US will be the end of an era that began more than 50 years ago when Murdoch inherited a small South Australian newspaper business from his father, Keith Murdoch.

Under the proposed changes, existing holders of ordinary and preferred shares and holders of ordinary and preferred American depositary shares will exchange their equity for equivalent stock in a new News Corp -- a Delaware corporation that will become the new parent entity.

The proposed changes are subject to shareholder approval, and Murdoch family interests won't vote with other shareholders on any of the transactions, the company said.

News Corp said it intends to retain listings on the Australian and London stock markets after making the New York Stock Exchange its home market.

``News Corp will continue to own, expand and improve its Australian investments and businesses, and will continue its significant affiliations with Australia,'' the company statement said.

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