In-House Changes at News Corp Ahead of Corporate Split
Note: This article has been updated to clarify the liability issues for the split company.
The embattled News Corporation has promoted deputy general counsel Janet Nova to executive vice president and deputy group general counsel for its newly created media and entertainment entity, 21st Century Fox.
The new company is expected to launch June 28, when News Corp. splits into two independent, publicly traded companies—one for its global publishing empire (News Corp.) and the other for broadcast and entertainment (Fox).
In her new post, Nova will oversee Fox’s M&A activity, capital markets transactions, and Securities and Exchange Commission and stock exchange reporting, and advise the board of directors’ committees.
Nova, who played a major role in the corporate split, reports to Gerson Zweifach, group general counsel and chief compliance officer. Zweifach said in a statement, “News Corporation has benefited from her judgment, insight, and guidance on a range of critical issues, including the separation of our businesses, and I am confident she will be a driving force for 21st Century Fox.”
Nova also served as the company’s interim general counsel from June 2011 to February 2012, when Zweifach was hired. She previously worked at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Zweifach said in a recent interview with Corporate Counsel that the discussion to split the company began before his arrival. “I immediately recognized that the business rationale would allow the two companies, the two boards, to make decisions about allocation of capital without choosing between growth rates in cable versus publishing . . . to make decisions with a sharper focus in each company,” he said.
And the shareholders agreed, voting on June 11 to separate the companies.
The separation offers Fox some protection from any criminal legal fallout related to a phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom, while indemnifying the publishing entity for civil liabilities. The scandal, including allegations of bribery, began at News Corp's now-defunct News of the World newspaper in the U.K. and spread to the U.S.
Nova’s promotion is one of several personnel changes enacted in preparation for the media giant’s split. Last month the company announced the appointment of Antoinette Cook Bush as executive vice president and global head of government affairs for the new publishing entity.
Cook, who begins her new job in Washington, D.C., on June 24, was a partner in the communications group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.