Exclusive: News Corp to name Thomson as Publishing Co CEO next week - sources

Sat Dec 1, 2012 1:20pm EST
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - News Corp is expected to name Robert Thomson, a close confidant of Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, to lead its new publishing company by the end of next week, according to sources familiar with News Corp's plans.

Thomson is currently managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor in chief of its publisher Dow Jones & Co, which News Corp acquired in 2007. Gerard Baker, currently the deputy editor of the Journal, is expected to succeed Thomson, according to these sources.

Murdoch will be relying on his trusted lieutenant to steer the new company - whose main assets apart from Dow Jones include its British and Australian newspapers and HarperCollins book publishing business - at a difficult time. Newspapers in many developed markets are suffering from a severe drop in advertising revenue and circulation is being hit as readers are choosing to get their news on smartphones and tablets.

Among the key decisions Thomson will have to make include what to do about the financially struggling New York Post and whether the new company will go on an acquisition spree for other U.S. newspapers that could come on the market, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Thomson and Baker were not immediately available for comment. Representatives for Dow Jones and News Corp were also not immediately available.

In June, News Corp said it was separating its publishing and entertainment assets in response to shareholders who had pressed News Corp to get rid of its troubled newspapers business after a phone hacking scandal tainted its British newspapers and forced the company to drop its proposed acquisition of pay-TV group BSkyB.

News Corp is still finalizing the details of other executive appointments within the new company - a decision that could delay the announcement of the appointments of Thomson and Baker, one of the sources said. It wasn't immediately clear whether the role of Dow Jones CEO Lex Fenwick will change in any way.

Murdoch will hold the chairman title at the publishing company after its split from the entertainment side, which will include most of the group's TV and movie studio assets and where he will remain chairman and CEO.   Continued...

Robert Thomson, editor in chief of Dow Jones & Company, speaks at the Reuters Media Summit in New York, December 4, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton