Rupert Murdoch passed the torch of his conservative media empire to his eldest son as the mogul announced he was preparing for retirement
Rupert Murdoch is passing the torch of his conservative media empire to his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, as the mogul prepares for retirement.
Fox News announced Thursday that Rupert, 92, had told staff of his decision to step down as chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp in November, and would be transferring his authority to Lachlan, 52, as he assumes an honorary "chairman emeritus" status.
It's an announcement with echoes of the hit HBO drama Succession, in which the aging patriarch of a media conglomerate contemplates what the future holds — and which of his adult children will assume his mantle.
Succession was in part inspired by the Murdoch family, who have been subject to scrutiny about which of Rupert's four older children — Prudence, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James — had the potential to be the next leader of the family business.
In the end, it was Lachlan, who congratulated his father for a 70-year career in media upon the news of his retirement, saying, "We thank him for his vision and his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination and the enduring legacy he leaves at the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted."
Here's more about Lachlan and what his leadership at Fox might mean for the media empire.
He Was Born in London and Grew Up in New York
Rupert and Anna Murdoch Mann welcomed the media mogul's first son, Lachlan, on Sept. 8, 1971, in London. He grew up in New York and attended a variety of private schools before heading to Princeton University, where he studied philosophy. Right away, he began to work for his father, managing newspapers in Australia and the U.S. before being named the deputy chief operating officer (the No. 3 position) at News Corp. in 1997.
He Left the Family Business to Set Out on His Own in 2005
In 2005, Lachlan left News Corp. and moved to Australia to launch his own firm, Illyria, which invested in failing radio stations and revived them.
Speaking to Business Insider about his decision to step out on his own, Lachlan said, "It gives you a lot of confidence … that you succeeded outside the company you grew up in."
He Returned to Fox in 2014
He wouldn't be gone from the family business forever and in 2014, Lachlan returned, this time as the non-executive co-chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox.
According to a Vanity Fair source, Lachlan's transition back into the company fold was a "big slap in the face" to his brother James, who had spent the past decade trying to prove to his father that he was the rightful heir to the media mogul's throne.
A year later, Lachlan became the executive chairman at 21st Century Fox, and by 2019, he was named the chairman and CEO at Fox, per The Hollywood Reporter.
In September 2023, Lachlan was announced as the incoming chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp — the sole executive — when his father announced he was stepping back.
America's Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer revealed the succession plan live on air, saying, "Our boss, Rupert Murdoch, is transitioning from chair of our parent company Fox Corporation."
"In his note, Rupert says that for his entire professional life, he's been 'engaged daily with news and ideas and that will not change,'" Hemmer said. "And he says he will still be an active member of the Fox community, reaching out with thoughts and ideas as he does every day."
Rupert added in his letter that he and the companies are doing well, shutting down any potential speculation for his decision.
"Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about our coming years. I certainly am and plan to be here to participate in them," Rupert wrote in the letter. "But the battle for the freedom of speech and ultimately the freedom of thought has never been more intense. My father firmly believed in freedom and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause."
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