Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News International, the scandal-hit British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, will step down from his post at the end of the year.

A statement released by News Corp on Sunday stated that Mockridge is leaving the company to pursue outside opportunities.

Murdoch. the CEO and chairman of News Corp, told the British Broadcasting Corporation that Mockridge's decision was "absolutely and entirely his own".

According to some media reports, News Corp was expected to name Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and a close confidante of Murdoch, to lead its new publishing company.

Mockridge replaced Rebekah Brooks as News International's CEO in July 2011 amidst a phone-hacking scandal that engulfed Murdoch's media empire in the UK. It prompted the closure of its tabloid newspaper, News of the World, and led to a year-long public inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the British press.

Brian Leveson, a British judge, published his controversial report last week, which called for a stricter form of self-regulation on the British press.

Mockridge's departure is the latest in a series of executive shakeups at Murdoch's British newspaper empire. His predecessor, Rebekah Brooks, as well as James Murdoch, former chairman of News International, quit their respective positions as details of the phone-hacking scandal emerged.

Source: Agencies