Abigail with attitude: Wendi slaps the pie-man
We were all mesmerised by the testimony of the Murdochs before the House of Commons select committee in mid-July. It was a family affair. Murdoch senior was taciturn and gruff, Murdoch junior garrulous and gracious. Rupert was like a bloodhound – droopy and dejected. James resembled a labrador, energetic and eager to please. Nevertheless, it was Rupert’s leggy wife Wendi who stole the show. Sitting directly behind her husband, she showed that she is a worthy member of the dynasty she has married into. She tapped her husband on the shoulder when he was emphatically pounding the table. It had obviously been decided by News Corp public-relations advisers that such pounding was overly dictatorial. After Wendi’s intervention, Rupert kept his hands firmly clasped in front of him.
When a member of the public threw a shaving-foam pie at Rupert, Wendi attacked the attacker with such ferocity that it occurred to me she might have married for love and not for money.
The Murdoch saga is relevant to this column in many ways. Most importantly, it shows that business is ultimately about people and the personalities of those that run companies. Also, a lot of hedge funds were long of BSkyB, the satellite broadcasting company in which News Corp, the Murdochs’ holding company, has a significant stake.
Last summer, News Corp bid for the portion of BSkyB it did not own. As the gravity of the situation at the News of the World become clear, the Murdochs decided not to proceed with their bid for BSkyB and the latter’s shares slipped as much as 20% before rebounding slightly. Several London-based hedge funds that held BSkyB shares suddenly had their month ruined.