Prodigal son returns, Lachlan Murdoch back in News Corp

Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:22am EDT
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By Jane Wardell and Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Lachlan Murdoch's appointment to senior positions within his father Rupert Murdoch's media empire marks the return of the prodigal son.

Nearly a decade after walking away from the News Corp inner circle in New York to set up his own investment company and settle in Sydney with his young family, it appears Lachlan has accepted the mantle of successor, whether alone or jointly with younger brother James.

"It's like the royal family," said Alan Knight, professor of journalism at the University of Technology in Sydney. "Murdoch senior has always treated News Corp as a family business and this guy is just basically accepting his inheritance."

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 in 2005 amid friction with other News Corp executives.

However, Lachlan's track record after striking out on his own has been marked by several spectacular failures.

His first move, a highly leveraged A$3.3 billion ($3.04 billion) bid with friend and fellow media dynasty heir James Packer for pay-TV company Consolidated Media Holdings fell through as the global financial crisis took hold.

Another ill-fated foray with Packer was the creation of telecommunications company One.Tel during the dotcom boom. The pair lost A$1 billion when the company collapsed.

As Packer started to exit the media business in favor of building a gaming empire, Lachlan paid A$1.50 per share to purchase a 9 percent stake from his friend in Ten Network Holdings Ltd in 2010.   Continued...

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