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Cox appointed chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, her husband becoming deputy chairman – but who will succeed the mogul?
‘Succession’ doesn’t miss a beat as its Murdochian family feud continues
The Murdoch clan are on the brink of a “succession” crisis after a controversial deal between News Corp and Disney that gives Rupert Murdoch control of a diminished group of media assets.
The two remaining Murdochs, Rupert and his two adult children, James and Lachlan, are to get shares in the combined company as part of the deal.
But the future of one of Rupert’s children, the 32-year-old daughter Elisabeth, is still unclear. While her husband, Matthew Freud, is confirmed as deputy chairman of the combined Fox-Disney, many believe that Elisabeth is next in line to lead the media empire.
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The family has never said who will succeed Rupert, but speculation has centred on James, 50, who ran the Fox News unit before his brother Lachlan, 42, moved up to deputy chief operating officer, taking on the role he will leave after the deal with Disney is completed.
But James now looks vulnerable to challenges from regulators and investors, who have objected to the marriage between Disney and 21st Century Fox. One investor, Sir Martin Sorrell, of WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, has reportedly advised James to prepare to leave.
Jimmy Murdoch, Rupert’s son, is also facing questions, particularly about his role in the culture that led to the Murdochs having to promise to sell Sky to the UK’s culture secretary, Karen Bradley, before giving approval for a $15bn (£11.5bn) sale of the 61% of Sky that it did not already own.
Elisabeth has been itching to take the reins from Rupert after years of being forced to watch as her brothers flourished. She went from secondary school in 1991 to working as a Sunday tabloid’s art director at 17 and became publisher of the Times in 1994.
At 29, she left the paper to set up a magazine called Country Life with her husband Matthew, a British media personality and arts patron. Their magazine, which covers classic homes, interior design and travel, is one of Britain’s best-selling titles and Time magazine included it on its list of 50 best magazines of the 20th century.
But at 33, Elisabeth decided to step out and spend more time with her family. The title fizzled out after the family sold it to HarperCollins in 2009.
Elisabeth, the second of Rupert’s five children, took a year off to return to her family in the US in 2010. She began her career in publishing after a stint in Washington at the American Enterprise Institute thinktank as an adviser to George W Bush, but left to run her own talk show, Get Real, on the Fox cable network in 2011.
Now she is an American citizen and has run into problems with executives who have not forgiven her for leaving Fox to spend more time at home. It was previously rumoured that she would go public with her supposed plans to run Fox in order to put pressure on Rupert to sell to Walt Disney.
The Murdochs have described their marriage as a “three-way relationship”.