Like something out of Stalinist Russia or current China, current 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch seems to have been erased without explanation or trace in the company’s new management structure, once the US$ 66 billion deal with Disney is done. A statement issued overnight and on the Fox website shows that Lachlan Murdoch is in as executive chairman/CEO, and Rupert Murdoch is still there as co-chair, but James Murdoch has vanished, erased by the board (which is dominated by Lachlan and Rupert).

In fact, James’ standalone CEO position has gone too. While Lachlan is CEO and executive chair, there has been a new slot created: chief operating officer, which will be filled by John Nallen, the long-serving finance chief of Fox.

James’ disappearance from the new management lineup at the Murdoch family’s key media company confirms a story in The Wall Street Journal last week that James was not heading to Disney as had been speculated in late 2017. The Journal reported that James could leave to set up his own media investment company. But there was no word as to whether he would be relinquishing his stake in the Murdoch Family Trust (which controls Fox and News Corp) to finance his new venture, and remove any possible conflict of interest (not that this has worried the Murdoch family in the past).

Lachlan Murdoch was made co-chair of Fox with Rupert Murdoch in March 2014 (that’s when he bolted from the dying Ten Network), became co-executive chair in 2015 and now gets the top job with dad alongside, but not in his executive role. Lachlan is co-chair of News along with his father who remains executive co-chair. James Murdoch is currently a director of News Corp and a director of Fox until the Disney deal is done. 

Peter Fray

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