Murdoch's News Corp. Ready to Move to U.S.

ADELAIDE, Australia -- Rupert Murdoch won shareholder approval Tuesday to move the corporate headquarters of his $48 billion News Corp. media empire to the United States and finally sever its Australian roots.

The 73-year-old media baron, who has U.S. citizenship and has lived there since the 1970s, also said the company was sticking with its earnings forecasts, helping to spur a 4 percent rally in News Corp. shares.

Investors voted more than 90 percent in favor of Murdoch's plan to reincorporate News Corp. in the United States, where it generates more than 75 percent of its earnings. The vote followed months of wrangling over the deal, which will see Australia's biggest company leave the benchmark stock exchange index.

"Very good reaction from shareholders on the move there and also Rupert reiterating growth forecasts. That's all very positive for the stock," said Perpetual Investments dealer Bruce Budd.

Murdoch had argued that shifting News Corp's primary share listing to the New York Stock Exchange would attract more institutional investors and boost access to U.S. capital markets.

Built by Murdoch from a single newspaper in the sleepy Australian city of Adelaide, News Corp. now ranks among the world's top media companies along with Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Bertelsmann.

News Corp. owns the Fox network, 20th Century Fox film studios and a host of newspaper and satellite assets.

Murdoch was forced to bow to investor opposition to get the move over the line, striking a deal to enhance minority shareholder rights.

"News Corporation will always be defined by an Australian spirit, and for entirely selfish reasons as it is from Australia this company derives its entrepreneurial spirit, our energy, our brashness," Murdoch said.

Slamming the table at a media conference, he rejected suggestions he was abandoning Australia. "Let's be clear about this. This is strictly legal, a piece of paper. ... We're not moving anything at all," he said.

News Corp. defended itself against questioning by small shareholders about the move's financial merits, saying its share price would gain once U.S. investors started increasing their holdings, offsetting sell-downs by Asian index fund investors.

"There's a considerable amount of headroom still between what the major institutions have in the index funds vs. what their potential is when News Corp. is included in the S&P 500," News Corp. director Geoffrey Bible told shareholders.