Murdoch's latest move is likely to lead to industry speculation that he is preparing the ground to sell off his UK-based newspapers that have come under cloud due to the phone-hacking controversy.
In an email sent yesterday, staff at The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun were told that Murdoch remained "fully committed" as chairman despite relinquishing positions on a number of UK boards, including the News International Group. A News International spokesman said: "Last week, Mr Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small subsidiary boards, both in the UK and US.
"This is nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise prior to the company split." News Corp plans to split into two firms, separating its newspaper and book publishing interests from its now dominant TV and film enterprises.
Murdoch is expected to chair both businesses but to be chief executive only of the TV and film side. According to the Guardian, the email sent to staff states that the decision to resign as director of UK-based newspapers "is part of the preparation of the business for the upcoming restructure into two companies".
It adds: "[Murdoch] remains fully committed to our business as chairman of what will become the largest newspaper and digital group in the world and we look forward to seeing him in London over the Olympic Games."
Several inquiries are currently in various stages of progress into issues related to the phone-hacking controversy at the now defunct News of the World. The adverse impact of the row was seen to affect the parent News Corp.