News Corp (NWS): Mason Hawkings Cuts Stake to 0.1% Amid Voting Structure Problems; Will Others Follow Suit?

In a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mason HawkinsSoutheastern Asset Management reported cutting almost its entire position in News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)‘s class B stock. The fund disclosed ownership of 187,500 class B shares, which represent 0.1% of class, versus 25.36 million class B shares. In addition, Southeastern owns some 15.52 million shares of class A stock. The position is passive by nature.

Mason Hawkins

Southeastern has been holding shares of News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS) for over a year now, while the stock dropped by more than 16% over the last 52 weeks. Recently the company has been involved in a small dispute with some investors over the control of the company. Several shareholders revolted against News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)’s voting structure which allows Rupert Murdoch’s family to control almost 40% of the voting rights, even though the family owns only around 14% of the company. This structure does not allow independent investors to have much influence within the company. In this way, during the last meeting of shareholders, it was proposed that the voting system is changed to a more “democratic” one, which will allow one vote for each share of stock held. However, the proposal was not approved during voting.

In this way, with the company being run with an “iron fist” by the Murdoch family, many investors might consider leaving News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS). In fact, the data that we collected during the latest round of 13F filings from over 700 funds that we track has showed that the overall number of funds that own shares of News Corp fell by 8 during the third quarter to 35 funds, while the aggregate value of their positions fell by $87.33 million, to $1.62 billion.

Aside from Southeastern, another shareholder of News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS) is Richard S. Pzena‘s Pzena Investment Management, which upped its stake by 4% during the July-September period to 24.40 million shares, while Charles De Vaulx‘s International Value Advisers boosted its position by more than 300% to 19.05 million shares.

While Mr. Hawkings has cut its position in News Corp, the investor has been bullish on some other stocks in the last couple of weeks. Southeastern has raised its exposure to Graham Holdings Co (NYSE:GHC) to 762,200 class B shares from 642,700 shares held previously and boosted its position in Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (NYSE:SNI) to 12.36 million class A shares from 3.37 million shares held earlier. Both stocks have had appreciated since the fund disclosed its bullish moves.

Disclosure: none