21st-Century Fox to leave ASX

Shareholder vote in early 2014 would make it official.

Yesterday 21st-Century Fox (ASX: FOX) announced its intention to leave the ASX and have only one listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. This is subject to the approval of the holders of the company’s class B common stock.

The company anticipates that the special meeting of stockholders will be held in March or April 2014, and if approved by stockholders and the ASX, the delisting would occur approximately one-month thereafter.

“Following the separation of our businesses in June last year, 21st-Century Fox has only limited operations in Australia, and we believe that consolidating the trading of our stock in the world’s largest equity market would provide improved liquidity to the company’s stockholders and greater efficiencies for the company,” Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch explained.

This move follows the June 2013 split of News Corporation (ASX: NWS) and 21st-Century Fox, in which Fox had control of the digital media and entertainment businesses and News Corporation controlled the traditional newspaper and magazine businesses.

Fox said the major benefits of the delisting would be:

– a simplification of the capital structure,

– consolidated trading on one exchange, which is expected to improve liquidity for trading, and

– providing a single securities regulatory regime for the company, which will reduce the company’s administrative burden and related costs of reporting and compliance.

As for ASX-listed stockholders, Chief Financial Officer of 21st-Century Fox, John Nallen, said: “Through the conversion of CDIs (CHESS depositary interests) into common stock, our ASX-listed stockholders can choose to retain their investment in the company via the NASDAQ exchange. For our ASX-listed stockholders who are unable to hold or elect not to hold the company’s common stock via the NASDAQ exchange, we have put in place alternatives to provide them with the time and flexibility to manage their investment as part of the proposed delisting process.”

Foolish takeaway

In the age of the internet, shareholders have a number of options to buy and sell stocks internationally, so the delisting from ASX will not inhibit them from following and benefiting from further growth. Australia should be proud that such a company started here, and that its success propelled it onto the world stage.

Australia has a strong history of news reporting through newspapers such as The Australian Financial Review, owned by Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ). Other business empires have been built upon news and media, such as the Packer family’s Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN).

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