Editorial: Meet a black-belt scrapper

It was hard not to be impressed by James Murdoch. For a split second during our 70 minutes with the BSkyB boss, I felt sorry for Richard Branson, standing in the way of this capable and determined young man, who likes a serious scrap with an opponent - and vanquishing them. (Murdoch, incidentally, holds a black belt in karate.)

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

That pugnaciousness is a News Corp standard and we all know where it comes from. It's the same Spartan steel that back in the '80s, put BSB - with its double-barrelled boss and its squarials - to the sword; that enabled the Sun and News of the World to grind down the Mirror Group over years of attrition; and led to victory over the unions Sogat 82 and the NGA, which were destroyed in the bitter war of Wapping. When I told him some commentators thought he might be fighting on too many fronts, James replied that things were quite busy but he was dealing with essentially 'isolated skirmishes'.

The question everyone wants answered, of course, is if - and when - James will take over the News Corp reins from his father. Maybe only Rupert and James know the answer. Or just Rupert. And what might others say? A few years ago, Michael Eisner of Disney said James might make a great leader for his organisation. And a BSkyB colleague told us: 'Why would he want to give up a job that he really likes, where he's closely involved in everything, to take a wide-ranging but shallow job at News Corp?'

Someone who works in another heavily regulated industry but probably isn't enjoying his job as much is Stephen Nelson, CEO of BAA. He's a boss besieged by problems, most of them intractable and many beyond his control. BAA's new Spanish owners will not be thrilled that their new toy is having the OFT slide-rule run up and down its airside gantries.

But something needs to be done about BAA's airports. I'd rather undergo trepanning without anaesthetics than spend another hour in the congested hell-holes that Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted have become.

On a more positive note: we're preparing the next list for '35 Women Under 35'. If you know somebody you think should appear on this year's most prestigious tally of young businesswomen, contact emma.devita@haymarket.com.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime