When you talk to people about Rupert Murdoch, they generally say two things: he’s really successful, and he’s old.
So his decision to step down as CEO of 21st Century Fox is big news. A lot of people, including Murdoch’s staff and friends, will be asking what it means.
In Australia, the cradle of the company, asking that question causes some particular chaos.
The WSJ, ultimately owned by Murdoch, reports:
The elder Mr. Murdoch, 84, will remain on as executive chairman at Fox, according to people familiar with the matter. His older son Lachlan Murdoch, 43, will be named executive co-chairman, the people said, while Chase Carey, who is currently chief operating officer of the company, will stay on in an advisory role to the senior Mr. Murdoch.
The Journal then reports:
The timing of these moves hasn’t yet been decided and could happen as early as this year or as late as next year, the person said. The matter of succession is on the agenda at the next 21st Century Fox board meeting, the people said.
There are a lot of unanswered questions including, for the Australian arm of the business, what exactly James and Lachlan think about newspapers.
In the CEO role at 21st Century Fox, James gets to make the decisions about the running of the company. But his brother Lachlan is co-chair of the board, along with his father.
In Australia, where News Corp started, one of the biggest questions building for years has been what happens to the printed newspapers and their businesses after there’s a change from Rupert’s leadership, because he absolutely loves newspapers and believes passionately about their role in society.
Right now there are no answers. The chaos remains.
How this plays out for people who follow the company will be fascinating. As Jay Yarow points out, there’s a bigger question about what happens to the company’s other major personality, Roger Ailes.
Disclosure: I worked for News Corp for 12 years, across its British and Australian operations, as a journalist and editor.
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