Rupert Murdoch passes on News Corp baton to son Lachlan

Elder son named to top positions in media empire, seven years after turning back on the business

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 10:56pm

Rupert Murdoch has promoted his eldest son as the non-executive chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, the two companies that make up his media empire, seven years after Lachlan turned his back on the business his grandfather founded.

The media mogul also gave his younger son, James, a bigger role as co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox, two years after he resigned as chairman of British broadcaster BSkyB following a parliamentary investigation into phone hacking.

Lachlan will help us lead News Corp forward  as we expand our reach

"Lachlan will help us lead News Corp forward as we expand our reach and invest in new technologies and markets around the world," Murdoch said. "I'm very pleased he is returning to a leadership role at the company."

But for now Murdoch, 83, himself remains chairman and chief executive officer of 21st Century Fox. He will also remain executive chairman of News Corp.

For years speculation had been rife over which of the magnate's children would succeed him. Lachlan, 42, had long been considered the likely candidate. But seven years ago he quit as deputy chief operating officer after banging heads with his father and top lieutenants. Since then he has focused on interests in Australia through his private investment company Illyria, which owns various media assets. Lachlan Murdoch also owns 9 per cent of Australia's third-ranked television network, Ten, from which he just stepped down as chairman.

At News Corp, the elder Murdoch can continue to rely on old news hand Robert Thomson, the CEO. Thomson used to be chief editor at The Times of London and held senior positions at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones news wires.

Murdoch started his media business in Australia after inheriting regional publishing assets from his father. In 1985, he became a US citizen as he sought to add television assets and in 2004 moved the media company to the US.

He has six children from three marriages. Lachlan and James come from Murdoch's marriage to journalist Anna Torv. The third child from that marriage, Elisabeth, 45, sold her audio-visual production firm to her father's company three years ago.

Murdoch's eldest child, Prudence, from his first marriage to Patricia Booker, is not involved in the family business.

Murdoch divorced his third wife, Wendi Deng, in November after 14 years of marriage. Deng, 44, is not a shareholder in the media companies. Their two young children, Grace and Chloe, are beneficiaries of 8.7 million non-voting shares held in a separate trust.

Born in Shandong, Deng is a Yale graduate who worked as a junior executive at News Corp's subsidiary Star TV in Hong Kong, where she met Murdoch at a 1997 cocktail party.

Fox is the owner of a Hollywood film and television studio, Fox broadcasting and cable channels F/X and Fox News. Murdoch split Fox last year from his News Corp publishing unit, with assets such as the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse