SYDNEY — The often-asked question of which of Rupert Murdoch’s three children will succeed him at the helm of global media colossus News Corp. has at last been answered. It’ll be 26-year-old Lachlan, if “Sky High,” a forthcoming book about Murdoch’s satcaster British Sky Broadcasting, has it right.
“The succession of News Corp. depends on how long I remain compos mentis,” Murdoch says frankly in the book by Mathew Horsman. “It is currently their (the children’s) consensus that Lachlan (who now runs News Australia) will take over. He will be first among equals, but they have to prove themselves first.”
Apparently, Elisabeth, BSkyB’s 29-year-old general manager, has yet to do so. “She has some things to work out,” Murdoch says in the book. “She has to decide how many kids she is going to have; where she wants to live.”
The 67-year-old titan already has the wheels in motion, having transferred the Murdoch family’s $3.5 billion, 30% News Corp. stake into the names of his three children, Lachlan, Elisabeth and James, who is News Corp.’s Gotham-based music and new media veep.
“Basically we have, or will have, more than 35% of the votes; that’s enough to control it unless you screw it up,” Murdoch says. “So the kids have those shares now. It will be up to them.”
The book also confirms rumors of tensions between legendary former BSkyB topper Sam Chisholm and Elisabeth, with Murdoch describing Chisholm as a “frightening man who plays people off against each other. Elisabeth thought Sam would teach her everything. He didn’t. He tried to cut her out.”
Amusingly, the book says Murdoch “decided to be deaf” when Chisholm asked Murdoch to appoint him chairman of BSkyB.
News Corp. insiders had no comment to make on the book, but didn’t deny the authenticity of Murdoch’s remarks.