Church of England Sells News Corp. at New High: Will the Archbishop Start a Hedge Fund?

The Church of England announced this week that it was selling its 1.9 million pounds ($3 million) of stock in News Corporation (NWS). Its reason: distress about the phone hacking scandal and its aftermath. From the release, the church says it’s “not satisfied that News Corporation had shown, or is likely in the immediate future to show, a commitment to implement necessary corporate governance reform.”

It seems oddly benevolent that the church was investing in British tabloids to begin with, considering that phone hacking is not exactly out of character for Fleet Street. And not to be ungodly, but could it be that the church is dumping this stock because News Corp. has hit a new high (of late, not all time) in anticipation of its upcoming spin-off?

NWS Chart

NWS data by YCharts

A quick check of the annual report shows that stocks have been kind of a drag for the church. It earned 2.9% in 2011 on its 5 billion pound ($7.8 billion) portfolio. It was buoyed by private equity (up 15.6%) and multi-asset absolute return strategies (up 6.6%).

“We plan to continue improving the diversification of the portfolio by expanding the exposure to alternative investments,” reads the report. Indeed, with performance like that, the Archbishop of Canterbury could start a hedge fund.

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