Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz may be the main beneficiary of the move — which just involves Fox, not News Corp, the entity that includes most of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing and Australian holdings since the operations separated last summer. Fox, the movie and TV company, currently has four types of stock with Class A and super-voting Class B shares (controlled by the Murdoch family) in Australia and the U.S. But the Saudi prince is also a major owner of the Class B shares. Fox curtailed the voting rights of the non-U.S. stock holders to comply with FCC rules that prohibit a company from owning TV stations here if more than 25% of its shares are controlled by foreigners. The change in stock listings will “likely” reduce foreign ownership of the Class B shares, Fox says. Once below the 25% threshold, it “would enable the Company to …restore full voting rights to the Company’s non-U.S. stockholders.” Murdoch says that the change is part of “our ongoing agenda to simplify the operating and capital structure of our Company.” Fox “has only limited operations in Australia, and we believe that consolidating the trading of our stock in the world’s largest equity market would provide improved liquidity to the Company’s stockholders and greater efficiencies for the Company.” Fox needs Class B shareholders to approve the change. That should come at a special meeting in March or April, with the delisting in Australia to take effect about a month later. Fox says that there’ll be no changes to its “operations, employees or business” from the delisting. CFO John Nallen adds that Fox will have a plan to help Australian investors who want to continue to hold Fox shares to own ones that trade on NASDAQ.
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