he Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board have today announced the sale of their shares in News Corporation on the advice of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The total shareholding sold was worth Â£1.9 million. As a result, none of the three national investing bodies of the Church of England hold shares in the company.
The Church of England first raised concerns with the Board of News Corporation in the aftermath of the phone hacking allegations that surfaced in July 2011. After a year of dialogue between the company and the EIAG, the Church of England was not satisfied that News Corporation had shown, or is likely in the immediate future to show, a commitment to implement necessary corporate governance reform.
Update: One blogger was surprised:
Talking of which, I realised today that I am too much of an idealist. I’m afraid I found myself genuinely shocked by reports that the Church of England is selling its Â£1.9m stake in News Corp, as a protest against its lack of contrition over phone-hacking. The Church? Shares? In News Corp? A helpful man on Twitter called Paul Harrison furnished me with the info that the Church of England costs Â£1bn per annum to run, of which three quarters is covered by fundraising and donations, with the shortfall plugged by the stock market. This still shocks me a bit. I must have really thought that churches were funded via the collection plate. What a quaint, unspoiled, John Major-like picture of England I must cling to!