Murdoch appointed News Corp co-chairman
Businessman Lachlan Murdoch takes the helm of his father's news empire, being named co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. Nine News.PT0M19S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35jkz 620 349 March 27, 2014
- James Chessell: It had to be Lachlan
- James Thomson: Lachlan Murdoch made an offer he couldn't refuse
The prodigal son, Lachlan Murdoch, was in Sydney when the first major plank in his father Rupert's succession plan was revealed. It was the culmination of talks that had started six months ago between them and a victory for Murdoch senior, who had for eight years been attempting to lure his son back to the family business.
But what was the trigger that dictated the timing? Most importantly someone had disappeared from the equation - Rupert's now ex-wife Wendi Deng.
Frosty: Lachlan Murdoch and Wendi Deng were never the best of friends. Photo: Getty Images
The disdain in which Lachlan held Deng was legendary, as was the family brawl over how Deng's children would figure in the corporate inheritance.
It was ultimately settled that they would receive non-voting shares.
The elder children, James, Lachlan, Elisabeth and Prue could receive the voting shares which conferred control.
The Murdochs divorced in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
Bu the relationship between Lachlan and his father could never be completely mended while he was with Deng.
The split became public in June last year and the divorce settlement was reached in November.
This opened the door for Lachlan to at least begin talks with his father about changing his role within the family companies.
Until yesterday he had been a non-executive director of both Murdoch's companies, 21st Century Fox and News Corp.
He has now been elevated to non-executive chairman of both companies, but is still not on top of the pecking order, as Rupert remains executive chairman.
Insiders say that six months ago the tone of the talks changed - or rather Murdoch senior altered his strategy to lure Lachlan back to the fold.
Lachlan remained steadfast that he did not yet want an executive role at either company.
In theory, he still doesn't have one.
However in enticing Lachlan to take on the non-executive chair roles, Rupert has been able to re-ink the Murdoch stamp on the empire.
As it now stands, it would appear that Lachlan will ultimately fill his father's shoes.
But plenty could change before Rupert leaves the company - an event which could be twenty years away.
Much less has been made of the elevation of Lachlan's younger brother James to be joint chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox - alongside long-time and well-respected executive Chase Carey.
Carey's contract is currently due for renewal, something which clearly presented Murdoch senior with an opportunity to phase James Murdoch in and Carey out.
Sources suggest Carey will remain an executive for another two to three years.
That allows time for the phone hacking scandal in which James had become embroiled to be resolved and the damage to be assessed.
If James can escape with injuries from which he could ultimately recover, he will probably seal his position as the most senior operating executive at 21st Century Fox.
The Murdoch camp is selling it as a partnership between the two Murdoch sons but whether there is a junior partner remains to be seen. There is plenty more room for evolution within this empire.