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Tom Mockridge, News International CEO, Stepping Down

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NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The chief executive of News International, the scandal-hit British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, will step down at the end of the year, the company said on Sunday.

Tom Mockridge, who has served as News International's CEO since July 2011, is leaving the company to pursue outside opportunities, News Corp said in a statement.

The move comes as News Corp is preparing to name executives to lead its new publishing company, which is being spun off from its entertainment operations.

News Corp is expected to name Robert Thomson, a close confidant of Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, to lead its new publishing company by the end of next week, people familiar with News Corp's plans told Reuters on Saturday.

The departure of Mockridge, who was with News Corp for nearly 22 years since joining the company in Australia, is the latest executive shakeup at Murdoch's U.K. newspaper empire which has been hit by a massive phone hacking scandal.

The phone hacking scandal at the now defunct mass-circulation News of the World has damaged Murdoch's reputation in Britain. James Murdoch, who was chairman of News International when the revelations emerged, has already quit the British newspapers and moved to the United States.

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