Rupert Murdoch is 'stepping down' as CEO of 21st Century Fox - but going nowhere

A succession process is reportedly underway in one arm of the Murdoch empire.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 29 Jan 2016

It may finally be happening. Rupert Murdoch is reportedly preparing to hand over the reins of his sprawling media empire to his sons, with current co-chief operating officer James Murdoch set to take over from his father as CEO of 21st Century Fox.

But if the rumours, reported by CNBC, are true the octogenarian won’t exactly be going very far. The media mogul would be staying on as executive chairman of Fox, while his other son, 43-year-old Lachlan, would add ‘executive’ to his current title of co-chairman.

Meanwhile, president (and the other chief operating officer) Chase Carey will quit to take up an as-yet-undefined advisory role at the company, which owns the eponymous US cable channels and studios and National Geographic, as well as stakes in Sky and reality TV powerhouse Endemol Shine.

This may well be the reason for shares falling more than 1% to $32.58 (£21) in New York – Carey was apparently well-respected by investors for his management of the cable networks, as well as being a non-family voice in the company.

A Fox spokesperson told CNBC succession is on the agenda for the next regular board meeting, but refused to comment further.

Of course, Fox is but one arm of the Murdoch empire. Murdoch senior and Lachlan are already executive chairman and co-chairman respectively of News Corp, which owns everything from The Sun to the Wall Street Journal and Harper Collins. James, now 42, is unsurprisingly on the board too, though merely as a (definitely non-independent) director.

The name missing from all of this is Elisabeth Murdoch, who stepped down as boss of Shine when it was merged with Endemol and bought out by her father. It seems she hasn’t kissed and made up with her family after falling out with them over the phone-hacking scandal – at least, not enough to go back into business with them anyway.

Her brothers must be getting on alright - apparently they’ll be working in a ‘partnership’. A source told CNBC, ‘James will have the primary role in running Fox while Lachlan will take on a broader strategic role from his co-chairman position.’

While Rupert is still around there’s no doubt he’ll still be running the show and stewarding his sons. But, if the whispers are true, at least he’s admitting he’s not immortal.

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