Rupert Murdoch announced on Thursday that he would step back from day-to-day oversight of his media empire, making way for his eldest son Lachlan to oversee the businesses alone.
The move made it clear that Rupert Murdoch wanted to see Lachlan run the companies. But Mr. It did not answer the question of who would control the voting trust for the family’s shares after Murdoch, 92, dies. The Murdoch family trust holds about 40 percent of the votes in both Fox Corp. and News Corp.
At that point, his four eldest children must form his ultimate succession among themselves – and they seem to be divided.
Rupert Murdoch appears to be in good health, but hours after he announced his departure on Thursday, some media executives who worked with him argued that he would not step down without a bigger plan to further consolidate Lachlan’s control over the companies. .
said former News Corp executive Ross Levinson, chairman and CEO of Arena Group, which publishes Sports Illustrated and Men’s Journal. “Wait till you see the final act.”
It is not known what that action will be. Fox Corporation and News Corp declined to comment.
Last year, Rupert Murdoch made a move widely perceived within the empire as an attempt to bolster Lachlan’s power: an attempt to merge News Corp. and Fox Corp. He backed out in January, with both companies saying at the time that the combination was not shareholder-friendly.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, Mr. Two people close to Murdoch believe he will make another attempt to reunite the companies. People warned that a complete merger was not possible in the short term.
Both predicted that any new deal would be preceded by a sale of parts of News Corp, including its real estate business, in an effort to assuage investor concerns that troubled last year’s merger. Some shareholders believe the real estate assets – which include Australian real estate listings powerhouse REA Group – are worth more than Wall Street News Corp is lending them, and they want to see them sold before any merger talks begin.
If those assets aren’t sold first, any attempt to reunite the companies could face resistance from News Corp shareholders, who are wary of the circumstances allowing Rupert Murdoch to sell at a discount. Some Fox shareholders are skeptical of the deal with News Corp., arguing that News Corp.’s newspaper businesses, including The Wall Street Journal, are not complementary with Fox Corp.’s entertainment assets, including the Fox Broadcast Network and FS1 Sports cable network.
Robert Fishman, an analyst at SVB MoffettNathanson, said his firm did not see merit in merging the companies. Instead, he thinks Fox should “pursue strategic alternatives on its own.” He added that a deal that would combine Fox News with another News Corp company would make sense.
Mr. Despite Thursday’s announcement, Murdoch appears fully committed to News Corp and Fox. He remained in his office in Los Angeles this week, a person familiar with the matter said, and continues to advise Lachlan on big-picture strategy for the company.
Indeed, in a letter announcing his decision to step aside, Mr. Murdoch told staff he “expects to see me in the office on Friday afternoon”. “
Mr. The real power behind the throne of Murdoch’s empire will continue to be the man who founded it, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at Lightshed Partners.
“As long as Rupert Murdoch is in control of these companies — whether he’s CEO, chairman, executive chairman or chairman emeritus — he still owns the company and he started it,” Mr. Greenfield said.
John Miller, chief executive of Integrated Media and a former News Corp executive, said Mr. Murdoch said he has proven to be unsentimental in his businesses — as evidenced by his decision to sell 21st Century Fox — with the exception of a few press releases. The movie studio and other entertainment properties were worth $71.3 billion to Disney in 2017.
Mr. Indicating that Murdoch might consider a sale at the right price, Mr. Miller said.
“All the cards are on the table at this point and the Murdochs are not shy about coming to that table,” he said.