Lachlan Murdoch takes over from his father Rupert Murdoch, but still under the control of the tycoon

2023-09-22 11:00:10

The “pawn of his father”. Instinctively, this is the word chosen by a good connoisseur of the group to describe Lachlan Murdoch. A handsome 52-year-old billionaire, married to a former model, a fan of climbing and sailing, but who will forever remain in the long shadow of Rupert Murdoch, content to act according to his wishes.

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“An investor” wise but “who does not seek to be a kingmaker” and to have political influence like his father, corrects Paddy Manning, Lachlan Murdoch’s biographer (The Successor. The High-Stakes Life of Lachlan MurdochSutherland House Books, 2022). “What he really cares about is the profitability of his business”he explained in July.

Whether a bland replacement or simply a quiet entrepreneur, Lachlan Murdoch, the new chairman of the English-speaking world’s leading media group, will never have the stature or provoke as much controversy as his father. Thursday, September 21, Rupert Murdoch, aged 92, announced that he would leave his position as chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp, the two companies that make up his group, in mid-November. He becomes “president emeritus” of the two entities. He will no longer have a place reserved for their boards of directors (but will retain the right to attend if he wishes). His eldest son and third child, Lachlan, who has already been the only one in the family at his side since 2018, officially succeeds him. He heads a group that includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal in the United States, the Sun and the Times in the United Kingdom, and 60% of Australian newspapers in terms of circulation.

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A “new role” for Rupert Murdoch

Make no mistake: Rupert Murdoch has no intention of taking a golden retirement. In a memo sent to its employees, the Australian-American specifies that it is in “very good health” and he invents himself “a new role” defending freedom of expression. “My father proudly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely dedicated to that cause. (…) The elites openly have contempt for those who are not part of their class, which is becoming rarer. Most media outlets are in cahoots with these elites, telling political stories rather than seeking the truth. In my new role, I guarantee that I will be in this battle of ideas every day. »

He who has always loved being at the heart of political influence, making and unmaking the careers of prime ministers and presidents, seems to want to redouble his activity in this area. “I will watch our broadcasts with a critical eye, read our newspapers, our sites and our books [il possède la maison d’édition américaine HarperCollins] with great interest, and I will share my ideas and advice. » Those who hoped to see the papivore disappear once and for all will be disappointed: “When I visit your companies and countries, you can expect to see me in the office until late Friday afternoon. »

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