LONDON - Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has resigned as a director of a number of News Corp. subsidiary boards in Britain and the United States, a spokeswoman confirmed Saturday.
Murdoch stepped down this past week as a director of NI Group, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp. Investments in the U.K., said Daisy Dunlop, spokeswoman for News Corp.'s British arm, News International. The companies oversee Britain's newspapers The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times.
It was not immediately clear which of News Corp.'s U.S. boards Murdoch had left. Britain's Telegraph newspaper, which first reported the news late Saturday, said those details had not yet been disclosed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
News International sought to play down the significance of the resignations, saying in a statement that "this is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split."
That was a reference to News Corp.'s announcement June 28 that it would separate its publishing business from its much more profitable media and entertainment business — forming two distinct, publicly traded companies. Under those proposed changes, Murdoch, 81, will chair both of the companies, although he would continue as chief executive of the media and entertainment company only.
Saturday's announcement suggests that Murdoch may be distancing himself from his British newspaper interests, which have been shaken to the core by a widespread phone hacking scandal.
The scandal erupted anew last year when it emerged that Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid had systematically hacked voicemails of politicians and celebrities. The revelations have rocked Britain's establishment and triggered three parallel police investigations that have resulted in more than 40 arrests.
Illegal eavesdropping allegations at the News of the World led to the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, then-CEO of News International, who has been accused of perverting justice in the scandal.