News International sent out an email on Saturday informing staffers that Rupert Murdoch has resigned as director of News International a string of other companies connected with the company's London-based newspaper holdings.
The news first broke when Times of London staffer Nico Hines tweeted that Murdoch resigned. According to Hines, the email says Murdoch's resignation is "part of the preparation of the business for the upcoming restructure into two companies." Filings show Murdoch stepped down as the head of News International, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp Investments, as well as a number of other boards across the U.K., U.S. and India last week. Murdoch is still the chairman of News Corporation. He merely relinquished control of the publishing side of the company operations, which is a surprise considering they've long been his baby. When News. Corp. announced the split into two separate companies the way they painted the future of the publishing side wasn't pretty, but Murdoch's always fancied himself a newspaper man. To watch him give up control of his British papers comes as a surprise, even though they've been nothing but a headache for Murdoch over the last year.
A News Corp. representative told the Telegraph the move was, "nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split," but other News Corp. sources say executives have speculated the Murdochs "could sell down their stake in the publishing division altogether and use the equity to help fund a leveraged buyout of the film and entertainment division."
But analyst Claire Enders told the Telegraph the move is connected to James Murdoch's News International resignation and signaled the two are on their way out of Britain for good. She called it the "slow fade of Rupert and James from the UK," and described it as a "permanent shift."
“James and Rupert have decided that they are not welcome in the UK, and they’re right. there is an enforced emotional withdrawal from these assets because they are no longer useful [in terms of influence]," she said.
According to the email sent to Times staff, Murdoch is "fully committed to our business as chairman of what will become the largest newspaper... group in the world."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.