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Murdoch's Pay Includes a $50,000-a-Month Rental

September 09, 2006|Claire Hoffman | Times Staff Writer

Every man's home is his castle. For Rupert Murdoch, even temporary digs are palatial.

Murdoch's News Corp. disclosed this week that since May it has been paying $50,000 a month to rent its chairman a Manhattan apartment while his $44-million place there is being renovated.

The perk, reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, comes on top of compensation worth $25.7 million -- $4.5 million in salary and $21.2 million in bonuses -- that the media mogul received in the fiscal year ended June 30.

Murdoch and his family have been staying in a Los Angeles home he owns during the renovation, a News Corp. spokesman said, which is why Murdoch needs a place to stay during his frequent visits to New York.

"Given his business requirements here, the company, for its convenience, decided that it would pay for an apartment in New York for Mr. Murdoch," Andrew Butcher said.

As for Murdoch's pay, about 10% higher than a year earlier, Butcher said, "Our senior executives' salaries are based on publicly known performance criteria. The company has had several years of record profits."

Murdoch is said to have taken a penthouse apartment in the Trump Park Avenue building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In addition to the rent, News Corp. is paying $500 in utilities and maintenance each month.

The filing also revealed that News Corp., which owns companies including 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co., the New York Post, Fox News Network and MySpace.com, paid President Peter Chernin $29.3 million in salary and bonuses, up about 8%.

The company paid Roger Ailes, who oversees Fox News and the Fox TV stations, $8.3 million, along with $77,243 for personal security and $124,020 for a car and driver.

Corporate governance watchdog groups called the payment of a personal -- and costly -- expense inappropriate for a public company.

"Why? Why? Why?" asked Nell Minow, editor of Corporate Library, a research firm that promotes shareholder rights. Minow said her firm had assigned an 'F' rating to the board of News Corp.

"This is a board that has proven itself time and time again to be completely within the thrall of the CEO," she said. "It's ludicrous that the people in the world who are best able to afford their luxury homes are the ones who don't have to pay for them."

New York-based News Corp., which Murdoch controls with a 31.2% stake, has seen its shares outperform those of such rivals as Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc. this year. Its stock rose about 17% during the most recent fiscal year.

News Corp. shares rose 16 cents to $19.54 on Friday.

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claire.hoffman@latimes.com

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