RUPERT Murdoch has laid the foundations for the future running of his media empire by appointing his sons, Lachlan and James, to top roles within the company.
Lachlan, 42, returns to the executive fold nine years after stepping down as deputy chief operating officer of News Corp, the group founded by his father in 1979. It was split into two operations – the publishing division of News Corp and the entertainment arm of 21st Century Fox – in July of last year.
Lachlan will become non-executive co-chairman of both groups, sharing those roles with his 83-year-old father.
James, 41, has been promoted to co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, the latest step in his comeback from the UK phone hacking scandal.
He was forced to resign as the head of News International – the UK division that housed the now-defunct News of the World – in 2012. That business, which owns the Times, Sunday Times and the Sun, has since been re-named News UK.
Both sons have at various times been tipped to take over from their father, who has always said he would like to have his children involved in the running of the group. It includes movie studios, television networks and newspapers around the world.
Media commentator and former Murdoch editor Roy Greenslade said the move was “very significant”. He continued: “I think it underlines the fact that it remains a family dynasty in spite of being a listed company. The two boys are being prepared to inherit.”
Lachlan worked as an executive at News Corp for 13 years before resigning in 2005 following a clash with other senior executives at the company’s headquarters in New York. He went on to set up Illyria, a private investment company in Australia, which owns various media assets. He will now split his time between his home in Sydney and New York, working with senior management to develop the business – a task more commonly associated with an executive, rather than a non-executive role.
Rupert Murdoch said the appointment recognised “Lachlan’s entrepreneurial leadership and passion for news, digital media and sport”.
“In this elevated role, Lachlan will help us lead News Corp forward as we expand our reach and invest in new technologies and markets around the world.
“We have many challenges and opportunities ahead, and Lachlan’s strategic thinking and vast knowledge of our business will enable me, as executive chairman, and the company as a whole to deliver the best outcomes on behalf of our stockholders, employees and customers.”
Prior to his promotion, James had been deputy chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox, as well as chairman and chief executive of its international arm. He will now have direct responsibility for Fox Networks Group, the broadcast and cable business in the US, as well as strategic oversight of its businesses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.