Lachlan Murdoch and his brother James have been appointed to top executive positions at News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, establishing a succession plan that will keep the Murdoch family at the helm of the global media empire.
Lachlan has been appointed non-executive chairman of both companies, serving at the side of his father, Rupert, while James will take up a position a co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.
The appointment resulted in Lachlan resigning as chairman of Ten Network Holdings on Wednesday night, a company in which he holds an 8.8 per cent stake. Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan has been elevated to the position of executive chairman at Ten, as his replacement.
In a statement announcing the moves, Mr Murdoch Sr said he was thrilled Lachlan was “returning to a leadership role at the company”.
“This appointment is a sign of confidence in the growth of News Corp and a recognition of Lachlan’s entrepreneurial leadership and passion for news, digital media and sport,” he said. “In the elevated role, Lachlan will help us move News Corp forward as we expand our reach and invest in new technologies and markets around the world.”
Lachlan is currently a director of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, executive chairman of Nova Entertainment Group, which operates radio networks in Australia, and executive chairman of his private investment company Illyria Pty Ltd.
Prior to founding Illyria in 2005, Lachlan was the deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation (now 21st Century Fox), a role in which he was directly responsible for two thirds of the company’s global revenue, with specific emphasis on its US television stations group and publishing assets.
21st Century Fox said that James would partner long-time executive Chase Carey to map the strategic direction of the company. He will have assume responsibility for Fox Network, and the Sky and Star pay-TV businesses in Europe and Asia.
“We are pleased to elevate James into this important role alongside my partner and trusted advisor Chase Carey,” Mr Murdoch Sr said.
“I’m confident James and Chase will continue to make a great team during this time of immense opportunity. James has done as outstanding job driving our global television businesses and our shareholders, customers, and colleagues will benefit greatly from his many talents.”
Lachlan said he was looking forward to working closely with his father and News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson.
“I am grateful to the board of News Corp for this exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working more closely than ever with my father as well as Robert Thomson and his team, who have launched the new News so successfully,” he said. “News Corp today has the energy and sensibility of a start-up and is at the cutting edge of change in the media, publishing and education industries, and much more.”
In Australia, Lachlan’s appointment prompted the unusual move by a rival media company to issue a public statement of support. Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner welcomed news of the appointment.
“On behalf of everyone at Seven we congratulate Lachlan. It is truly great to see an Australian going onto lead a global media company like this,” he said.
“He has already proven himself to be an executive with foresight and acumen in the Australian media marketplace and we have no doubt that he will make a great contribution to a great company. Good on him.”
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