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Fox shapes legal team; Janet Nova upped to deputy counsel

A battle-tested veteran of News Corp.'s general counsel's office will take on additional duties following the corporate spinoff set for June 28.

The company announced Monday that Janet Nova, deputy general counsel, will become executive vice president and deputy group general counsel for 21st Century Fox. She will help manage day-to-day operations of one of the nation's busiest corporate legal offices.

Nova, who has been a key member of News Corp.'s legal team since 1997, will oversee legal aspects of Fox's acquisition strategy, capital markets transactions and Securities & Exchange Commission filings.

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Gerson Zweifach, the company's top lawyer for the last 17 months, is expected to divide his time by serving for at least a year in a dual role as general counsel for 21st Century Fox as well as for News Corp., the soon-to-be publishing entity.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company is poised this month to divide into two publicly traded companies. 21st Century Fox will boast the lucrative TV networks, including Fox, FX, Fox News Channel and regional sports networks, and the 20th Century Fox movie and television production studios.

The spinoff publishing company, which will take the name News Corp., will consist of the HarperCollins book publishing house and dozens of newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, the Australian and Times of London.

Zweifach has been the point person in the company's tangle of legal problems, including lawsuit settlements and a corruption probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, stemming from the costly cell phone hacking scandal at the now-shuttered London tabloid, the News of the World.

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Zweifach said earlier this month the company has not reached a settlement with the U.S. government.

News Corp. and its business units and reporters might also have been victims of hacking and government inspection. Earlier this year, there were revelations that executives within News Corp.'s Dow Jones news organization believed Chinese computer hackers had been targeting Dow Jones's computer systems. 

News Corp.'s general counsel's office also found itself on the front lines when it was disclosed last month that the FBI had subpoened private emails of a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to see whether he had violated espionage laws by soliciting classified information from a government official.

Nova served as interim general counsel for about seven months during a tumultuous period following the departure of former general counsel, Lawrence A. Jacobs. He left the company in June 2011, just before the phone hacking scandal exploded into front page headlines around the world.

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Nova assisted Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch and his son, Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, when they were hauled before a committee of the British Parliament in the summer of 2011.

“News Corporation has benefited from her judgment, insight and guidance on a range of critical issues, including the separation of our businesses, and I am confident she will be a driving force for 21st Century Fox," Zweifach said in a statement.

Prior to joining News Corp, Nova worked at the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where she was an associate in the firm’s corporate and securities practice.

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