- - Wednesday, May 2, 2012


NEW YORK — News Corp.’s board of directors on Wednesday announced its “full confidence in Rupert Murdoch’s fitness” and backed the CEO’s leadership amid a probe of phone hacking and bribery by the company’s U.K. newspapers.

The declaration - from a board that governance experts have said lacked independence - came a day after a British parliamentary committee said Mr. Murdoch was “not a fit person” to head a major international company.

The 81-year-old Murdoch built News Corp. from a single Australian newspaper and controls the media conglomerate through a family trust that owns nearly 40 percent of voting shares.

He has come under fire by British lawmakers after two appearances before them since the scandal broke last summer.

“The board based its vote of confidence on Rupert Murdoch’s vision and leadership in building News Corporation, his ongoing performance as chairman and CEO, and his demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the company identified in the select committee’s report,” the board said in a statement.


Yahoo girds for fight with activist investor

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo set the stage Wednesday for a battle with an activist investor intent on winning seats on the struggling Internet giant’s board of directors.

In a letter to shareholders, Yahoo said it had been unable to reach a compromise with Daniel Loeb, head of New York-based hedge fund Third Point, who wants a direct hand in running the California company.

“Regrettably, our efforts to avoid a proxy contest with Third Point were unsuccessful,” Yahoo said a letter to stockholders.

“The board continues to believe that Mr. Loeb himself does not bring the relevant skill set and experience to the board, particularly in comparison to the candidates selected by the board.”

Yahoo said that it offered Third Point two seats on the board but would not approve Mr. Loeb being one of them. Mr. Loeb insisted any compromise include him being appointed to the board, according to Yahoo.

Mr. Loeb owns nearly six percent of Yahoo stock. His “Shareholder Slate” of candidates includes himself, Harry Wilson, Michael Wolf and Jeff Zucker.


Court bars Microsoft sales on Motorola suit

BERLIN — A German court ruled Wednesday that Microsoft can no longer sell its products locally because it infringes patents held by U.S. communications firm Motorola Mobility.

Microsoft said the ruling covers sales of its computer operating system Windows 7 and the Xbox games console but insisted it would have no practical impact.

German customers could still order its products from its distribution center in the Netherlands, it said.

Microsoft decided to close its German distribution center in early April, anticipating that the ruling would go against it.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company would also appeal the ruling, given by a tribunal in Mannheim.

High-tech patent disputes have become increasingly common as giants of the industry, especially Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Motorola, slug it out in the courts to protect their products in a hugely competitive market.


Target phasing out Amazon’s Kindle

NEW YORK — Target Corp. says it’s phasing out Amazon.com Inc.’s e-reader Kindle at its more than 1,700 stores and its website.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder says the decision to stop selling Kindles this spring follows the chain’s evaluation of the prices and quality of its merchandise. The Minneapolis-based retailer started selling Kindles two years ago.

The move coincides with the discounter’s steps to create mini shops of Apple Inc. products in 25 of its stores this year.

Despite competition from cheaper tablet computers such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Apple’s iPad remains the most popular tablet. Apple Inc. has sold more than 55 million iPads since the tablet’s debut in 2010.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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