21st Century Fox has reached a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims


Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. has reached a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims arising from the sexual harassment scandal at its Fox News Channel, which cost the jobs of longtime news chief Roger Ailes and anchor Bill O’Reilly.The settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, resolves what are known as “derivative” claims against Fox officers and directors, including: Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who are Fox’s executive chairmen; James Murdoch, another son and its chief executive, and Ailes’ estate.

The defendants did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement filed with the Delaware Chancery Court.

Monday’s settlement calls for insurers of Fox officers, Fox directors and Ailes’ estate to pay the $90 million to the New York-based company for the benefit of shareholders.

Fox will enhance governance and said it created the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure a proper workplace environment, bolster training and further the recruitment and advancement of women and minorities.

The council has four independent members, including former federal judge Barbara Jones.

In a typical derivative case, shareholders sue in the name of a company to remedy wrongs inflicted by an alleged lack of oversight by a company’s officers and directors.

Ailes’ estate disputed many of the allegations in the settlement, which was reached before a complaint was formally filed, court records show.

“The Workplace Council gives our management team access to a braintrust of experts with deep and diverse experiences in workplace issues,” Jack Abernethy, co-president of Fox News Channel, said in a statement. “We look forward to benefiting from their collective guidance.”

Shareholders were led by the City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System in Michigan. Their lawyer, Max Berger, said in a statement the accord would provide “meaningful benefits” for shareholders and Fox News employees.

The accord is not the first big derivative settlement involving a Murdoch-led company.

In 2013, former Fox parent News Corp reached a $139 million settlement of derivative claims that its board turned a blind eye to phone hacking at its London tabloids.

Two years later, the Delaware court approved a $275 million settlement involving “Call of Duty” videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc over a stock sale by Vivendi SA.

The scandal at Fox began in July 2016 when former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of harassment. O’Reilly lost his job in April after being accused of harassment, and has denied wrongdoing.

Ailes died the next month. Fox faces other private civil litigation tied to the scandal.

The case is City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System v Murdoch et al, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 2017-0833.

 Source; Thomson/Reuters

Low risk does not mean you can skimp on insurance

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The odds are in your favor that you will not end up using the disability or term life insurance you get through work any time soon. But you need it anyway – and more than you typically get for free.

Despite insurance industry statistics that indicate that one in four 20-year-olds will be disabled before reaching retirement age, the averages are skewed by laborers with physically demanding jobs. Yes, people break arms and have bad backs, but those disabilities do not typically keep them out of a desk job for the three months that often must pass before disability insurance starts paying benefits.

Still, while the risk is low, people need to think about how they would pay their bills if they become unlucky. “You don’t want to lose your home or have to use your 401(k),” said John Ryan, principal of Ryan Insurance Strategy Group, and a certified financial planner who advises other financial planners on insurance.

If you are young and have no children or a spouse counting on your paycheck, you still need to think about what you would need to cover your mortgage or lease payments, your student loan debt and basic expenses.

Even in a two-career family, losing one income could hurt, said Sheryl Garrett, a certified financial planner and founder of Garrett Planning Network. If one spouse is working more to make up the difference, then who cooks, cleans, mows the lawn, and picks up the kids? “You might have to hire someone. And for a disabled person, a spouse might have to provide caregiving too, or hire a caregiver,” added Garrett.

Although the Society for Human Resource Management reports that 85 percent of large companies provide some life insurance for employees, free insurance often covers only a year of income. When an employee leaves a job, coverage likely ends. A rule of thumb for life insurance is to have seven to 10 times a person’s income to cover a family until children have been raised and debts paid off. Online calculators can help you figure out the math (bit.ly/2xnEivz).

Rather than buying extra insurance in the workplace, healthy people should compare prices in the private market because it is more comprehensive and typically less expensive. A parent of young children could lock in a 20-year-term life insurance policy that would provide $1 million and cost as little as $36 a month, according to Ryan’s calculator (bit.ly/2gC7O9Y). Also try LifeQuotes.com or AccuQuote.com.

By securing a term life policy for a lengthy period, a parent avoids having to reapply for insurance, face steep rate increases, and potentially get rejected for weaker health later in life.

On the other hand, disability insurance is best purchased through the workplace. It is much more expensive than life insurance if purchased privately. Ryan suggests buying all you can in the workplace.

Typically, when employers provide long-term disability insurance it covers 60 percent of an employee’s income. That can seem reassuring, but often there are also maximum limits – perhaps $2,500 to $5,000 in coverage a month. An average worker earning $75,000 or less might be fine under such rules, but not someone earning over $125,000, said Ryan. In addition, bonuses and commissions typically are not covered.

 To show the contrast, Ryan offers this example: A recent workplace plan charged a 30-year-old $16.47 a month for each $1,000 of disability coverage per month. Yet, if purchased privately, a 30-year-old woman would pay $30.56 a month and a man $19.50 a month. The costs go up as you age, which can get pricey.

Years ago, Garrett thought a young client was making the mistake spending a ton of money on disability insurance. Although he looked ready to play basketball, the man contracted a debilitating genetic disease and just one year later was using a wheelchair and a walker, with no chance of recovery. In retrospect, his insurance purchase was well worth it, Garrett said.

“We aim to protect the individual Arsenal fan experience when they want to go to a game, whether they’re travelling from Islington or India, Sydney or San Francisco.

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Terrorism Insurance in Demand for Concerts Following Las Vegas Attack

Terrorism Insurance in Demand for Concerts Following Las Vegas Attack

By Ashley Cullins | The Hollywood Reporter

A string of deadly attacks at music events — including the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest festival — is pushing artists to invest in something most didn’t think they needed: terrorism insurance.

“Now more than ever they are targets,” says Steves Rodriguez, business manager for Fifth Harmony.

Political violence and terrorism (PVT) insurance policies have been available for decades, but they have been a tough sell unless artists are touring in volatile regions like South America or Eastern Europe. But after the killing of 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas that took place while Jason Aldean was onstage; the bombing outside Ariana Grande’s show in Manchester, England, in May; and the 2015 attack on the Bataclan nightclub in Paris, reps are now advising talent to buy the coverage no matter where they tour.

“Not everybody believes it’s necessary,” says Bill Tannenbaum, a business manager who specializes in representing touring artists. “I’m pretty vocal about taking it with my clients, and luckily we had it with Ariana Grande.” The singer canceled multiple stops on her tour after the attack before returning to Manchester for a benefit concert.

Standard nonperformance insurance costs about 2 percent of the artist’s guarantee and pays a claim (usually about 80 percent of appearance fees) if shows are canceled for reasons like illness, injury or natural disaster. A PVT add-on costs about an extra half-percent.

“It’s usually a battle with the artist to buy it,” says attorney Dina LaPolt, who represents Britney Spears and Steven Tyler. “If you get paid a million dollars, all of your tour costs come out of that million. So every penny counts.”

Even the threat of an attack can trigger a claim. “The way [policies had] been written previously is, the threat had to be related to the venue,” says John Tomlinson, who leads the entertainment group of Lockton Cos., the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage. “We have expanded that language to include threats made to bandmembers,” he says. Policies might also cover a show that is impacted by an attack within a certain time or distance, say within a week of the event or within 50 miles of the venue.

LaPolt says she also tries to add terrorism into the force majeure provision in appearance contracts. That way, in the event of an attack, both the artist and the tour promoter’s obligations are negated, preventing a breach of contract lawsuit.

While no one could truly prepare for a tragedy like the one in Las Vegas, LaPolt says recent attacks have made terrorism insurance more common. “If it’s a big tour and you’re a high-profile artist and you gather tens of thousands of people per show, you have to have it,” she says.

Nor is the need exclusive to musicians: Other live events, like NCAA tournaments and trade shows, are buying coverage. And Orange Is the New Black showrunner Jenji Kohan told THR recently that she took out terrorism insurance on her office building because she expects a show she’s developing about a teenage Jesus to be controversial.

“You’re always going to do something that someone doesn’t like,” said Kohan. “And you don’t know how crazy that someone is going to be.”

California fires cause $1B in damage, burn 7,000 buildings

By Janie Har And Michael R. Blood


SAN FRANCISCO _ The wildfires that have devastated Northern California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property, officials said Thursday, as authorities increased the count of homes and other buildings destroyed to nearly 7,000.

Both numbers were expected to rise as crews continued assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed 42 people, a total that makes it the deadliest series of fires in state history.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the preliminary dollar valuation of losses came from claims filed with the eight largest insurance companies in the affected areas and did not include uninsured property.

The loss total was expected to climb “probably dramatically so,” Jones told reporters, making it likely the fires also would become the costliest in California’s history.

The initial insurance total covered 4,177 partial residential losses, 5,449 total residential losses, 35 rental and condominium losses, 601 commercial property losses, more than 3,000 vehicle losses, 150 farm or agricultural equipment losses, and 39 boats.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s estimate of homes and structures destroyed was boosted to 6,900 from 5,700 as fire crews returned to hard-hit neighbourhoods and assessed remote and rural areas they could not get to earlier, spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

He said most of the newly counted destroyed buildings burned on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 _ when the wildfires broke out in wine country north of San Francisco and other nearby areas.

“The estimates are in structures and are mostly homes, but also includes commercial structures and outbuildings like barns and sheds,” Berlant said.

Twenty-two of the 42 deaths in California’s October fires happened in a Sonoma County wildfire, making it the third-deadliest in California history. A 1933 Los Angeles fire that killed 29 people was the deadliest, followed by the 1991 Oakland Hills fire killed 25.

When adjusted for inflation, the Oakland Hills fire is believed the costliest fire in California history at $2.8 billion. It destroyed about half as many homes and other buildings as the current series of fires.

California Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday issued an executive order to speed up recovery efforts as fire authorities say they’ve stopped the progress of wildfires.

More than 15,000 people remain evacuated Thursday, down from a high of 100,000 last Saturday.

Brown’s order also allowed disrupted wineries to relocate tasting rooms and suspended state fees for mobile home parks and manufactured homes.

The order extends the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies until April 2018 and expedites hiring of personnel for emergency and recovery operations.

In Los Angeles County, authorities said a charred body was found on Mount Wilson, where crews were trying to surround a smouldering wildfire in steep terrain.

The male body discovered late Wednesday was recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to identify it, Sheriff’s Sgt. Vincent Plair said.

California firefighters were also battling a blaze that sent smoke billowing into the college beach town of Santa Cruz.

The wildfire in steep and rugged terrain had grown to nearly half a square mile (1.3 square kilometres) and the number of houses threatened by the fire had doubled to 300.

Several firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Black, female insurance exec on quest to mentor teen girls

By Jonathan Landrum Jr.


COLUMBUS, Ga. _ Teresa White, the first woman and African-American president of Georgia-based insurance giant Aflac U.S., has the knack to inspire. So says Seychelle Hercules, a formerly bashful girl who went on to win Georgia’s Miss Columbus pageant after hearing the trailblazing black executive speak.

Hercules’ life took a major turn after White told her and some other teenage girls about how she overcame obstacles and stereotypes in rising to the corporate suites of Aflac U.S., a $130 billion brand known for its TV commercials featuring a duck that randomly quacks out the company name to potential customers.

White told each young African-American girl present that they, too, were capable of success. Hercules walked away filled with hope.

“She inspired me that day,” said Hercules, who went on to win beauty pageants and now represents Columbus, a rural Georgia city south of Atlanta where Aflac is based. “She spoke with so much confidence and grace. One thing I love about Mrs. Teresa is that she looks like me. She gives me hope. I can soar to greater heights. She’s a pioneer in so many ways.”

Since joining Aflac in 1998, White stood out for her ability to write computer code _ a skill she says is uncommon for most African-American women around her at the time. Now 50, White landed the prestigious position of president in 2015, becoming the first woman and African-American to hold the title in the company’s 61-year history. Even today, the company’s information technology group still reports to her.

Not bad for a woman who originally wanted to be a beautician.

“I had plenty of people who told me since I was a female that I should stay on the beautician side,” White said. “Because I was African-American, the stats say you’re not going to make it here. But I said to myself that I’ll prove them wrong. That was the tingling in my fire to say ‘That’s what you think, but that’s not what I think.”’

White now oversees 3,500 employees for Aflac’s U.S. operations, focusing on product innovation and expanding distribution. She received several honours this year from the American Business Awards and was recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine as one the most powerful women in business.

Though African-American friends and peers have told her of their struggles to climb the corporate ladder, White says her ascent was made less difficult by Aflac’s initiative for diversity. Aflac’s executive leadership team is one-third female and two-thirds of the company’s workforce is comprised of women. About 40 per cent of employees are minorities.

“It’s what made me stay,” White told The Associated Press in an interview. “Certainly, I’ve had opportunities. But for me, you can’t replace an organization that has the groundwork already laid to allow people to be who they are and honour their work product and not their skin colour.”

During her tenure at Aflac, White has sought to uplift her colleagues with early morning devotion times, where employees join her to read Bible scriptures and meditate, sometimes in her spacious 12th-floor corner office at Aflac headquarters in Columbus. She also began a career development program for those in the company in 2014.

But White wanted to do even more in the community, specifically for young girls she felt needed mentoring in a major way.

In 2015, White created the Bold Moves, an eight-week summer program in Columbus to inspire African-American girls ages 13 to 17. The program is backed by Aflac and features nearly 30 women who are community and business leaders teaching various lessons ranging from personal finance and entrepreneurship to business etiquette, resume writing and more.

Hercules and many other black girls have been inspired by White and have taken part in Bold Moves. The program works with Girls Inc. to recruit girls such as Hercules _ who’s been involved with both programs for years.

“She cares about the people,” Aflac CEO Daniel Amos said. “When you know the boss cares about you, you work harder for them. It’s that caring attitude that really makes her the person she is. Then, it’s her IQ and her ability to manage and leadership skills … She’s got the combination of it all.”

White felt she could relate to the girls. She and her sister were raised by their single mother in impoverished public housing in Dallas, where drugs were rife and she recalled people around her who made a lot of “bad decisions.”

Mentorship, she said, helped her overcome the obstacles and set her on her career path.

“I want to be a lighthouse,” White said. “This is an opportunity to show a different picture of what success looks like.”

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