News Corp. today lost an appeal to have the Delaware Supreme Court toss out a suit brought by the $20 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Hartford; the €168 billion ($300 billion) Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, Heerlen, Netherlands; and other institutional investors to void an extension of a poison pill antitakeover provision by the company's board of directors. Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland ruled that the suit can proceed in Delaware Chancery Court.
Stuart Grant, attorney with Grant & Eisenhofer, which is representing the shareholder group, plans to ask for a trial date of March or April, said Allan Ripp, spokesman.
Defendants included K. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman and CEO, Lachlan K. Murdoch, deputy COO, and 12 other officers and directors.
The company's board promised to drop its poison pill after a year in exchange for shareholder consent for its reincorporation to Delaware from Australia, which became effective Nov. 12, 2004, according to the suit. But News Corp. officials extended the poison pill provision last August for two more years without a shareholder vote.
Plaintiffs include: the $64 million Clinton Township (Mich.) Police and Fire Retirement System, Britel Fund Nominees and Hermes Assured - two funds managed by Hermes Investment Management, which is owned by the £33 billion ($58 billion) British Telecommunications PLC pension fund, London - and the $35 billion Universities Superannuation Scheme, Liverpool, England.
Other plaintiffs, all based in Australia, are: the A$15 billion (US$11.3 billion) UniSuper Ltd.; A$7.1 billion H.E.S.T. Australia; A$6 billion Public Sector Superannuation Scheme Board; A$5.6 billion Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme Board; A$2.9 billion Motor Trades Association of Australia Superannuation Fund; and A$2 billion CARE Super.