Murdoch sets up sons to take over media empire

Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:26pm EDT
 
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By Kate Holton and Jennifer Saba

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch has returned eldest son Lachlan to the leadership of his media empire and promoted younger son James, paving the way for the 83-year-old tycoon to pass the reins to the family's next generation.

Lachlan, 42, will become non-executive co-chairman of both entertainment company 21st Century Fox and publishing operation News Corp, sharing both roles with his father. He rejoins the company after quitting as deputy chief operating officer nearly 10 years ago amid friction with other News Corp executives.

James, 41, will become Fox's co-chief operating officer alongside longtime Murdoch stalwart Chase Carey, the latest step in the younger son's comeback after he was forced to relinquish some roles during a phone hacking scandal in Britain.

"I think it underlines the fact that it remains a family dynasty in spite of being a listed company," media commentator and former Murdoch editor Roy Greenslade said in a telephone interview. "The two boys are being prepared to inherit."

Each son has at various times been seen as heir apparent, and it is unclear how well they will work together when Murdoch finally hands over the companies.

The Murdoch family controls both Fox and News Corp through a

trust that has a 38 percent ownership stake of Class B shares with voting rights.

"If there is any surprise, perhaps it's bringing Lachlan back into Fox," Evercore analyst Alan Gould said in a telephone interview, referring to the movie studio and broadcaster split off last year from the News Corp media holdings. "I would assume it does set up a little bit of a bake-off as to who will ultimately succeed at Fox."   Continued...

 
News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch (C) and sons Lachlan Murdoch (L) and James Murdoch attend the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart