When it comes to investing nous, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch are no Warren Buffett. Instead of possessing a golden touch for investment like the Sage of Omaha, they have a lead-like knack for losing money. For all the guff about how clever the Murdoch males are with their investing, it’s actually Elisabeth Murdoch who has proven more astute at finding investment opportunities through her media ventures. Conversely, dad and Lachlan have the dead touch of duds.
Take the latest example from golden-haired son Lachlan who (along with Gerry Harvey) is a shareholder of the soon to be ASX-delisted toy group Funtastic. Its shares are now worth just 0.08 of a cent — down 47% yesterday on news of the plan to delist in June. The scared investors are bailing — but will Lachie (and Gerry) be among them? The Funtastic debacle sits comfortably with Lachie’s losses in the Ten Network, where his shares have fallen from the equivalent of $13.70 to 57.5 cents. Nice work.
Sadly, we can’t leave Lachie without inviting readers to remember his two other great “deals”. Along with James Packer, he blew up hundreds of millions of dollars in One.Tel — then, in April 2014, he paid $40 million to make a long-running court case with the telecommunications company go away. Lachie was also the prime driver behind Australian Rugby League’s Super League wars, which cost News Corp over $1 billion in the 1990s.
Yet, we can’t blame Lachie for every disaster — sometimes it’s dad’s fault. Take Rupert’s MySpace debacle, which cost News Corp over half a billion dollars. And his online education business, Amplify, which ended up losing News Corp almost $761 million.
There might be something in the Murdoch genes to explain these investment performances of dad Rupert and son Lachie — after all, the other son, James, has also proven similarly inept. Let’s not forget James’ personal involvement in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal — a colossal mess, which cost News Corp a billion US dollars in lost revenues, legal costs and damages. — Glenn Dyer