This is sure to add fuel to Wall Street’s hopeful speculation that News Corp might sell its scandal plagued UK newspapers. Deputy COO James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, has wiped the ink off his hands by resigning from the boards of the company’s UK print operations, according to multiple news reports citing News Corp filings at Companies House, which regulates corporate activities. He left Times Newspaper Holdings — the institution that was supposed to protect the independence of the Times of London and the Sunday Times when Rupert Murdoch bought them in 1981 — as well as News Corporation Investments and News International Publications Limited. These moves follow James’ resignation last month from the executive chairman job at News International, which oversees the UK print operations. He said at the time that the decision made sense following his move to New York to expand “my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company.” Murdoch has also recently resigned from the boards of Sotheby’s and GlaxoSmithKline, but he’s still chairman of BSkyB. His withdrawl from the UK newspapers comes as investors clammor for News Corp to ditch the business that Rupert loves. Critics say that newspapers are growth challenged and a distraction as News Corp grapples with multiple investigations into journalist phone hacking and bribery. Last month COO Chase Carey acknowledged to an investor group that the value of News Corp shares probably would rise if it unloaded the newspapers, but added that the company’s focus “is on managing these businesses and improving profitability.”
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