New
York’s historic Hudson Theatre on 44th street is just around the corner
from News Corp’s headquarters at 1106 Avenue of the Americas, where
early tomorrow (Australian time) it will host what’s being talked up as
a major showdown between Rupert Murdoch and his unhappy minority
shareholders.

Up to 500 shareholders, 100 News Corp types and 50
press are expected to almost fill the 700 seat theatre for the meeting
which will be broadcast (audio not video) on the News Corp website when
proceedings kick off at 10am New York time (midnight tonight AEST).

At this point, it’s clear that at least three “activists” will be lining up to have a go – Crikey, shareholder activist Evelyn Davis
and, most importantly, Andrew Clearfield, who will be representing the
global coalition of institutions suing News Corp in Delaware over the
poison pill.

The FT has produced the best summary
of the issues so far. The key point will be the size of the protest
lodged against the directors and the proposed pay rise for directors.
No News Corp director has ever received less than 90% of the votes
cast, but excluding Rupert’s 30% stake, some observers are predicting a
protest exceeding 50%.

It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, John Malone’s Liberty Media does with its 18% voting stake.

Crikey
was on the same flight to New York as Rupert’s loyal Australian
henchman Ken Cowley and we waved at each other in the queue waiting to
be photographed and fingerprinted at LA Airport.

News Corp spindoctor Andrew Butcher is being quoted
claiming that Stan Shuman’s resignation means that there are now a
majority of independents on the News Corp board. However, this relies
on calling Cowley – who’s been working for Rupert since the launch of The Australian in 1964 and was executive chairman of the Australian business from 1980 until 1996 – an independent.

The lack of real independent directors, Lachlan’s resignation, the
poison pill and Mike Mangan’s explosive relations about News Corp’s
intimidation and manipulation of analysts are at the top of a long list
of planned questions in what should be a lively exchange between Rupert
and his shareholders.

Crikey pub night in New York

A
Crikey subscriber has very kindly put Stephen Mayne up in his
conveniently located New York hotel room this week, so why not join the
two of them at a Crikey pub night tonight.

The venue is the favoured haunt of New York Post
hacks, Langan’s, at 152 44th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Who
knows, Col Allan might even drop by for a beer with the worst chief of
staff who ever worked for him.

We’ll be there from 5pm but try to make it be before 7pm if you can.

Also, Patricia Piccinini’s new show opens to the public at 11am on Saturday at the Robert Miller Gallery, 524 West 26th Avenue (between 9th and 10th) if anyone fancies checking it out.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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