James Murdoch to Succeed Father as CEO of 21st Century Fox

Updated: Rupert Murdoch and other son Lachlan will become executive cochairmen
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Rupert Murdoch will give up his post as CEO of 21st Century Fox and his son James will succeed him, the company said. Lachlan Murdoch will also have a big role in running the company.

The change is effective July 1.

Chase Carey, the company’s deputy chairman, president and COO since 2009, will become the executive vice chairman and serve in that role through June 30, 2016.

Rupert Murdoch, founder, chairman and CEO, together with Lachlan Murdoch, currently cochairman, will become executive cochairmen.

The company said its global television and film operations will now jointly report to Lachlan and James Murdoch, as will its corporate functions.

News of the plan was reported last week. At the time, the company said the board would be discussion succession at its next meeting.

“It has always been our priority to ensure stable, long term leadership for the Company, and these appointments achieve that goal,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “Lachlan and James are each talented and accomplished executives and together, we, as shareholders and partners, will strive to take our company to new levels of growth and opportunity at a time of dynamic change in our industry.”

Murdoch also thanked Carey for “his friendship, counsel and leadership,” and said Carey “will be actively engaged in supporting Lachlan and James as they step in to their new roles.”

Lachlan and James Murdoch, in a joint statement, said: “We are both humbled by the opportunity to lead, with our father and the talented team of executives at 21st Century Fox, this extraordinary company.”

Analysts were not very surprised last week about the plan to make James CEO because the company had elevated James and Lachlan in a reorganization in 2014.

Rupert Murdoch, as executive chairman, is expected to still have final say on major company initiatives. But Wall Street will miss Carey for his stabilizing influence on the company, counterbalancing Murdoch, who was more prone to bold moves, such as last year’s bid for Time Warner. Time Warner rejected the bid and 21st Century Fox eventually withdrew it.

21st Century Fox was spun off from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., with Fox controlling assets in the TV and movie business.

While the company’s cable networks have been strong, the company’s earnings have been limited by longer-term investments in new cable networks including Fox Sports 1 and FXX in the U.S., and by lower ratings and declining ad revenue at the Fox broadcast network. Currency issues have also hurt 21st Century Fox earnings.

“The Board has long been focused on succession and we’re fortunate to have two very talented executives in Lachlan and James to take this Company into the future,” said Rod Eddington, lead director of 21st Century Fox. “Working in tandem with Rupert, we’re confident their partnership and stewardship will give this business real momentum for many years to come. We are also deeply grateful to Chase Carey for his many years of exceptional leadership and his agreement to continue his contributions through his new position.”

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