GLOBAL – Major European pension institutions such as ABP, USS and Hermes are among a group of institutional investors which have launched a lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. over a poison pill arrangement.
Investors participating include Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, the Dutch civil service scheme, the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme and Hermes Investment Management, the asset manager owned by the British Telecom Pension Scheme.
The group seeks to compel News Corp. to abide by a promise it says it made to shareholders less than a year ago that it would not extend poison pill provisions beyond 12 months without shareholder approval.
The suit was filed in Delaware Chancery Court seeking to enjoin the extension of the poison pill until News Corp. puts the provision to a shareholder vote as promised.
The funds involved also include the Connecticut Retirement Plans and the Clinton Township Police and Fire Retirement System of the US.
Several Australian funds are also involved, including UniSuper, Public Sector Superannuation Scheme Board, the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme Board, United Super and the Motor Trades Association of Australia Superannuation Fund.
A News Corp. spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying the suit was "frivolous and without merit."
Separately ABP is suing US car parts supplier Delphi for accounting fraud, which has caused the civil service scheme losses of almost $14m, it said in a statement.
The €170bn scheme claims that Delphi, a former subsidiary of General Motors, has artificially inflated its profits, by selling stock during difficult quarters between 1999 and 2002, and has wrongly booked the proceeds as company profits. After the very quarters, Delphi bought back the goods.
ABP is co-lead plaintiff in a class action, in which the Austrian scheme Raiffeisen Kapitalanlage-Gesellschaft, and two US pension funds are also involved.