Watching the way the media covers Rupert Murdoch’s proposed move to America is a fascinating past-time, as Don Boredwalk explains.

Oh dear, Jane Schulze has gone and undone some of the good work she’s done recently in negotiating the News Corp shoals and reporting events in the attempt by Rupert and the family to shift the family company from Australia to Delaware in the US, where insiders rule, OK!

Just one phrase, that the Murdoch move to the US “received a boost” from the endorsement of the rollover on corporate governance from Institutional Shareholder Services, was enough to wonder about this story.

It would have been better to argue that the Murdoch move was ‘saved’, not boosted by the ISS endorsement. Without that endorsement, amplified on Nine’s Business Sunday by someone from ISS, Rupert was adrift and would have tried to either ‘crash through’ on the issue or withdraw it and try again.

But she sort of redeemed herself in the same edition of The Weekend Australian with this interesting backgrounder to the role of the Institutional Shareholder Services group. It should have been on the front of the business pages like The Sydney Morning Herald did with its feature and news story on the Murdoch issue.

Michael Pascoe on the Seven Network’s Sunday Sunrise talked to Michael O’Sullivan from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors and raised the possibility that John Malone, Murdoch’s ‘mate’ and possible rival or successor, was not bound by the corporate governance arrangements as were the Murdochs.

But so far there’s still no sign of Terry “HMV” McCrann on the Murdoch change of heart on corporate governance. Is he still trying to coming to terms with the switch and joining Rupert’s son, Lachie who was effectively hung out to dry on the issue after being sent out in public the week before to argue against any suggestion of taking Australian corporate governance standards to the US?

McCrann’s column in Saturday’s Weekend Australian again railed against the State Premiers for daring to take actions contrary to the McCrann view of business, finance and politics. It was pretty much a repeat of his Friday column in the Murdoch tabloids, just in case anybody missed it the first time.

And in The Australian Financial Review John Durie again distinguished himself by referring to those worried about corporate governance issues and news as having ‘academic’ interests, and contrasting that to Rupert’s leaked musings in New York about more billion dollar deals (buying back control of Gemstar and TV Guide) as two examples, or buying up the minorities of Fox Entertainment. These were mutterings that helped knock the share price lower on Friday.

Nice one Chanticleer, supporting the musings of a man who just loves to tell shareholders everything about his company, first.

It will be a proud day when Chanticleer actually bags Rupe for effectively knocking a few hundred million of shareholder value with his blatherings last week (all denied, of course).

Either the old guy is losing his marbles and muttering to himself as senility approaches, or he’s right on top of his game and cynically trying to manipulate share markets, investor expectations, and still impressionable finance reporters in New York and elsewhere.

It’s no wonder there is a deep-seated distrust of Murdoch, despite his obvious ability to drive the company. If he’d just stick to the vision thing and looking for value, rather than trying to control everything, including the markets, News Corp would be a more convincing buy!

Chanticleer should have been wondering about something like this, Michael Pascoe’s set-up comment to the Michael O’Sullivan interview on Sunday Sunrise.

“Elections fought over a multi-billion dollar cake can be rather depressing events – as we’ve just seen. But there’s another one coming in just 16 days. That of course is the News Corporation vote on Rupert Murdoch’s plan to move the company’s official domicile to the US.

“The Murdochs and their hired help claim it’s all about reducing the cost of capital. Well, maybe. They would have us believe it was just coincidental that the move strengthens the family grip on the company and greatly waters down the corporate governance rules that apply in Australia.

“And, as the regular viewer knows, I’d argue part of the deal is about the Murdoch family getting a better price than is warranted for their 58 per cent of Queensland Press – assisted by a defective so-called “independent expert’s” report. Defective because it either ignores or down-plays an imminent threat to the monopolies enjoyed by The Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail.

“In yesterday’s Fairfax broadsheets, columnist Alan Kohler points to further competition problems for existing newspapers , this time from Telstra’s Sensis – but you won’t read anything about that either in the seriously flawed Grant Samuel report.

“Throw in the concerns of some local funds managers that their investors will miss out on the potential of News Corporation’s international strategy finally paying off, and there are good reasons for the vote on October 26 being far from unanimous.

“Nevertheless, after Rupert Murdoch’s Wednesday backflip on some of the corporate governance issues, it’s a pretty safe bet that the vote will get up and News Corporation will be on its way out of the ASX 200 index.”

Yes, that’s where it’s all for Murdoch, News Corp and all the insiders and others still interested in the affair. It’s over, bar any last minute reneging by Rupe!

Peter Fray

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