Lachlan is back! Rupert Murdoch has named both his sons Lachlan and James to senior positions at his media companies, "all but ensuring that a media conglomerate that has always been run like a small family business would have a Murdoch in charge for years to come," commented the New York Times today.
Lachlan, 42, becomes non-executive co-chairman of the News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, returning to his father’s side after nine years away. James, 41, has been appointed co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch announced the moves to staff in internal memos that he signed himself.
The NYT commented " the fact that he is able to install his sons in leading roles at companies with a combined market cap of about $83 billion — underscores Rupert Murdoch’s unique standing in American business.
"Huge public companies are almost never inherited, and in this instance, Mr. Murdoch, at age 83, is elevating not one son, but two. It not only illustrates the force of his personality, but reflects years of calculated moves combined with an ability to live above consequence when trouble looms, as it did during the hacking scandal."
David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets said within 10 years, it was likely that the companies will be run by a new Murdoch. “It feels like, by increasing the operational portfolio for James, they are grooming him for a bigger role,” he said.
Lachlan decided in 2005 to leave as deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, after clashes with other senior executives. Since then, Rupert Murdoch, who will remain executive chairman of News Corporation and chairman and chief executive of 21st Century Fox, has worked assiduously, said the NYT, to bring his oldest son back into the fold, quoting people familiar with the process.
A fourth person, close to the Murdochs, said Rupert had been “chipping away” at Lachlan for years at family gatherings and investor conferences,
James,is also said to have been been pressing Lachlan to return.
The brothers had become closer as a result of the hacking scandal and then their father’s divorce from Ms. Deng, which removed a significant source of tension between the father and the sons, said the NYT.
Their sister Elisabeth Murdoch left the company in 2000 and has established a life apart from her father’s companies, living in London with her husband, the public relations executive Matthew Freud.
Though she sold her television production company, Shine, to News Corporation in a $670 million deal in 2011, she is considered unlikely to return.
James was instrumental in persuading his father to sign off on buying a stake in Vice Media, it was reported this week,for example.
Despite James Murdoch’s troubles, the NYT said the new role suggests Rupert now believes James is ready to resume his upward trajectory in the company.
Though based in New York, where he is expected to primarily remain, James Murdoch has been increasingly visible on the studio’s Century City lot in California over the last year.
In a statement, Rupert Murdoch said James Murdoch would stand “alongside” Chase Carey, the Fox chief operating officer and president. But it was not clear whether the position was an apprenticeship to Mr. Carey, or a partnership. TV agents noted that Mr. Carey’s title remained chief operating officer while James is co-chief operating officer, a subtle but potentially important distinction. Some speculated said the NYT that Mr. Carey, a disciplined operator who is prized by Wall Street, might depart.
In an internal memo, Rupert Murdoch said that Lachlan Murdoch would add “strength and insight to our leadership team at a time of great opportunity and challenge for our company.”