Lachlan Murdoch Named Head of Family’s Shrinking TV Empire

Posted May 16, 2018 5:54 p.m. EDT

LOS ANGELES — For a dynastic drama that played out over decades, with sons falling in and out of favor and an aging father unwilling to loosen his grasp, the accession Wednesday was anticlimactic: Lachlan Murdoch, as expected, was named chief executive and chairman of his family’s shrinking television conglomerate.

The job cements Murdoch, 46, as successor to his father, Rupert Murdoch, 87, who will take the title of co-chairman.

The news release from 21st Century Fox announcing Murdoch’s new duties at the “proposed new ‘Fox'” made no mention of his younger brother, James Murdoch, 45, who serves as chief executive of 21st Century Fox. James Murdoch is expected to strike out on his own, perhaps starting a company that invests in digital media businesses.

The management changes, which Rupert Murdoch telegraphed in December, were announced by 21st Century Fox as part of the proposed sale of the bulk of its assets to the Walt Disney Co. That $52.4 billion deal is awaiting shareholder and regulatory approval, although Comcast has been maneuvering to upend the agreement with a hostile bid. Either way, 21st Century Fox’s movie studio, its share in Hulu and cable networks, and stakes in overseas television providers will be sold.

Left behind for Lachlan Murdoch to run will be the still-powerful Fox News operation, the Fox broadcast network, a chain of local TV stations and a cluster of sports cable networks led by FS1. John Nallen, 21st Century Fox’s chief financial officer, will take on a broader role as chief operating officer.

“The strengths of the new company, a leader in news, sports and entertainment, present truly unique opportunities,” Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement, adding that further leadership appointments would come “as we get closer to closing our proposed transaction with Disney.”

Lachlan Murdoch has long been his father’s favored successor. He has broad experience in the family’s media empire, serving in various senior positions starting in 1994, including overseeing the television stations and The New York Post. But he abruptly left the family business in 2005 after sparring with the pugnacious leader of Fox News, Roger Ailes. After decamping to Australia, where he founded and ran a successful investment company, he returned to his father’s side in 2014.

Lachlan Murdoch also serves as co-chairman of the News Corp., his family’s newspaper company.