Murdoch brothers' symbiotic ties to be tested in Fox cockpit

Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:44pm EDT
 
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By Paul Sandle and Byron Kaye

LONDON/SYDNEY (Reuters) - One has been closely involved with the family business from his early 20s and is driven to succeed. The other had to be lured back from a decade's hiatus from the company and has operated at the edges of the empire.

Now James and Lachlan Murdoch, octogenarian media baron Rupert's only sons, are teaming up at the helm of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O: Quote), the crown jewel of the empire their father built.

James Murdoch, 42, is set to be elevated to chief executive of the entertainment company that is home to "The Simpsons" and movie franchises like "Planet of the Apes." Lachlan, 43, will become co-executive chairman with his father as executive chair, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday, describing the arrangement as a partnership between the brothers.

Investors say the brothers' ability to work together is one of the keys to Fox's future.

“When the old man is gone, who knows what their relationship is?” said Matthew Benkendorf, a portfolio manager at Vontobel Asset Management, which has about 719,000 Fox shares.

Those who know them say the Murdoch brothers could not be more different in style and approach to business, where James is seen to have a much harder edge.

“They are very, very, very different," said a source who knows the family. “Lachlan’s less confrontational than his brother, he’s easy going, he’s not got that same sort of naked ambition."

Both, however, have been raised by a father who lived and breathed the News Corp business. "It’s hard to explain: it’s not a normal family; they have been bought up as part of a dynasty with a clear understanding that the business came first," said the source who knows the family.   Continued...

 
Rupert Murdoch (C), executive chairman of News Corporation, and his sons Lachlan (L) and James (R) are seen in a combination of file photos. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Lucas Jackson/Adrees Latif/Files