* Sells all News Corp shares worth 1.9 mln stg
* Ethical concerns raised over governance
By Anjuli Davies
LONDON, Aug 7 The Church of England has sold all
shares in News Corporation held in its investment
portfolios on ethical grounds, after a phone hacking scandal at
the media empire's UK operations.
The Church, which has three national investing bodies, sold
the shares worth 1.9 million pounds ($2.97 million) after its
Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) was not satisfied with
the level of corporate governance reform at Rupert Murdoch's
media conglomerate following a year of dialogue.
"Last year's phone hacking allegations raised some serious
concerns amongst the Church's investing bodies about our holding
in News Corporation," Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church
Commissioners said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The EIAG put forward a number of recommendations around how
corporate governance structures at News Corporation could be
improved. However the EIAG does not feel that the company has
brought about sufficient change and we have accepted its advice
The EIAG, established in 1994, has made several
recommendations on investments that should be excluded,
including companies involved in military products and services,
pornography, alcoholic drinks, gambling, tobacco, human
embryonic cloning and high interest rate lending.
It also seeks to engage with companies the Church holds
equity stakes in on ethical and corporate governance issues, and
held meetings with 40 companies, including News Corporation,
between April 2011 and March 2012, it said.
The Church manages more than 8 billion pounds of assets
across three national investment bodies: the Church
Commissioners for England; the Church of England Pensions Board;
and the CBF Church of England Funds.
The phone-hacking scandal has rocked Murdoch's News Corp
titles in Britain, put the notoriously aggressive British press
under the spotlight and embarrassed senior politicians,
including British Prime Minister David Cameron, over cosy ties
with the Australian-born businessman.
Three investigations have led to more than 60 arrests
including dozens of current and former journalists, some of whom
held senior positions at News International titles.
The $57 billion media conglomerate also announced in June it
would split into two publicly traded companies.
News Corp shares have gained 29 percent this year, far
outpacing the broader market partly because of a boom in
political advertising spending ahead of the U.S. presidential
election and also bigger cheques from cable and digital
providers that have driven up media stocks in the United States.