Appointment of Wall Street Journal exec to be formally announced next week

News Corp. is said to have tapped Wall Street Journal manager editor Robert Thomson to run its new publishing division as the conglom sets the stage for a landmark split of its print and entertainment assets by next summer.

Thomson’s appointment will be announced next week, the WSJ reported Saturday on its website. Thomson is also editor-in-chief of WSJ parent Dow Jones & Co., which News Corp. acquired in 2007 for a hefty $5.6 billion. He’s a close confidant of News Corp. chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch and was previously at the Times of London and the Financial Times.

News Corp. announced the decision to separate print and showbiz in June, and it’s expected to take a year. The split will create two separate public companies. Publishing will cover News Corp.’s U.S., U.K. and Australian newspapers, the education division and the integrated marketing group. The showbiz side will house Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox Films and Television, BSkyB, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland.

Thomson’s appointment puts an end to speculation that Murdoch’s oldest son James, who left the company in 2005 but has always had an affinity for print, would return to the fold as head of all newspapers.

A News Corp. rep declined to comment.

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