News Corp. shareholders OK 'poison pill' plan

Shareholders of News Corp., the global media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, approved the extension of a 'poison pill' anti-takeover measure by a vote of 57% at the company's annual shareholder meeting, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the approval tightened Murdoch's control over the media company he founded and gave him greater leverage over media investor John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media, whose unexpected move to amass a stake in News Corp. two years ago prompted News Corp. to adopt the measure.

However, the relatively narrow margin of approval signaled wider shareholder discontent with News Corp.'s handling of the issue, which had raised the ire of some shareholder advocates, the report said.

News Corp. put the poison pill measure in place in November 2004 after Malone surprised Murdoch by suddenly accumulating a stake in News Corp.'s voting shares, which now stood at about 19%, potentially rivaling the Murdoch family's voting stake of 30%, the report said.

Murdoch told shareholders that 'if we can believe Liberty, we're very close to closing a deal' to swap Malone's stake for an asset or assets owned by News Corp. Murdoch noted that with the poison pill measure extended, 'we're not in any rush.'

'Poison pill' measures are intended to thwart hostile attempts to seize control of a company.

News Corp.'s plan would have resulted in the stake of any outside bidder such as Malone being diluted if they were to make a run at the company without the consent of the board, the report said.