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21st Century Fox’s Plan to Exit Australian Stock Exchange Gets OK

The move is expected to streamline financials and help restore voting rights for non-U.S. shareholders

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will be delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange, after that country’s regulators on Sunday approved the plan.

Trading on the ASX will be suspended on May 1, and after May 8 all of 21st Century Fox’s Class A and Class B Common Stock will be listed solely on NASDAQ in the U.S.

The move follows last June’s split of News Corp. into two companies, 21st Century Fox — which includes the Fox Entertainment Group — and a company retaining the News Corp. name that holds print media businesses including the Wall Street Journal and various Australian media assets.

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The move was approved by Australian shareholders Friday, and Fox said that there will be no changes to its “operations, employees or business” from the delisting. But it should simplify the company’s capital structure and provide more liquidity for trading, and could give it more leeway in the U.S. in terms of TV station ownership.

Fox earlier suspended the voting rights of the non-U.S. stock holders to comply with FCC rules that prohibit a company from owning TV stations in the U.S. if more than 25 percent of its shares are controlled by foreigners, and the change in stock listings could reduce the number of Australians who hold shares of the Class B shares. Getting below the 25% threshold, Fox said in announcing the move in January, “would enable the Company to … restore full voting rights to the Company’s non-U.S. stockholders.”

But there’s no guarantee the move will reduce the number of foreign shareholders, because they’ll have the option of keeping them when they’re listed on NASDAQ. Beginning on May 9, shareholders can sell off their stock on NASDAQ via a voluntary sale facility that closes on July 9.

Murdoch, 82, started his media empire in Australia after inheriting a regional publishing empire from his father. In 1985 he became a U.S. citizen as he sought to add television assets and in 2004 moved the media company to the U.S.