You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Elisabeth Murdoch: Staying Firmly Out of the Family Business

The succession plan taking shape for Lachlan and James Murdoch at 21st Century Fox raises the question of whether their sister Elisabeth will re-enter the family business on any level.

The answer for now is a firm no — not in an executive role and not as a board member, multiple sources say. Elisabeth Murdoch is removed from the Fox and News Corp. fray by making her home base in London. She’s focused on running the investment fund, Freelands Group, that she launched after leaving Shine Group last fall following its merger with Endemol and Core Media Group.

Freelands is focused on making early-stage investments in digital and tech companies. She’s teamed on some projects with Shari Redstone, a fellow daughter of a media baron, Viacom-CBS Corp. chairman Sumner Redstone.

A rep for Elisabeth Murdoch declined to comment for the story.

Elisabeth Murdoch has had a roller-coaster relationship with her father’s media empire in the past decade. She was said to be dismayed by the actions of her younger brother James when the phone-hacking scandal erupted in 2011. She had been in line for a nomination to a board seat at the time but declined to pursue it under pressure after what was then News Corp. (prior to the 2012 division of the companies into the Fox media and entertainment conglom and the publishing-centric News Corp.) was facing heightened scrutiny of its governance.

Elisabeth Murdoch worked for various Fox entities in the U.S. in the 1990s and held a senior exec role at BSkyB before setting out on her own in 2001 with the launch of Shine Group. The company grew quickly through acquisitions of production-distribution companies. Murdoch brought a global vision to the business from the start with the focus on developing shows that could be exported as formats in a range of worldwide markets. Shine gradually expanded with outputs in the U.S., Germany, Australia, Scandinavia and other markets with the goal of creating a worldwide network of content suppliers and on the ground production capabilities.

News Corp. cut a deal to acquire Shine Group in early 2011 — a few months before the charges that News Corp.-owned newspapers in the U.K. engaged in illegal tactics and bribes as a routine newsgathering practice. That scandal spurred a tidal wave of criticism directed at Rupert Murdoch and Fox interests, and the $663 million acquisition of Shine became another target those charging that Rupert Murdoch ran the company not for shareholders but as his personal fief. In that environment, Elisabeth had no choice but to give up ambition for a board seat despite her stake in the family trust that controls a majority of voting shares in Fox and News Corp.

Shine maintained its autonomy within the News Corp. and 21st Century Fox fold for several years, with Elisabeth remaining chair. But last year, 21st Century Fox began talks with private equity giant Apollo Global Management to merge Shine with Apollo’s Endemol, which pursued a similar business strategy as Shine, and the smaller Core Media Group.

When the joint venture was finally assembled and the who-runs-what questions were sorted out, there was no role for Elisabeth. She left the company with no fanfare last fall, around the same time her 13-year marriage to PR maven Matthew Freud ended. It’s no secret that Freud had at times been a source of tension within the Murdoch dynasty, particularly after he was quoted in a 2010 New York Times story slamming Fox News and its leader, Roger Ailes.

For now, sources say Elisabeth Murdoch is eager to stay mostly out of the spotlight and is putting her energies into raising her four children and nurturing the seedling investments she helps select for Freelands. Among those investments is animation production startup Locksmith Animation, where she serves as chair.

Murdoch is also active in arts and culture projects. She is chair of the Tate Modern Advisory Group, part of the U.K.’s formidable Tate arts conversation and archive org. In addition, Murdoch has launched a private foundation to lend support to visual artists.

More Biz

  • THE MASKED SINGER: L-R: Monster (T-Pain)

    New-Model Murdochs: Fox Corporation to Emerge Tuesday

    A new era for the Murdoch clan and the media business begins with the debut of Fox Corporation on Tuesday, a day before Disney completes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The new-model Fox will begin trading Tuesday on the NASDAQ under the FOXA symbol. On Tuesday, 21st Century Fox will initiate a complex transfer [...]

  • mark Beaven

    If Spotify Is Holding Town Halls for Songwriters, They Must Be Open (Guest Column)

    Earlier this month, Amazon, Google, SiriusXM and Spotify challenged the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to increase the compulsory mechanical rates paid to songwriters by 44% over the next five years. The streamers have come under fierce criticism for the move, which they claim is over the complexities of the CRB’s rules but is widely assumed [...]

  • iHeartMedia Promotes Angel Aristone to Executive

    iHeartMedia Promotes Angel Aristone to Executive VP of Communications

    Angel Aristone has been promoted to executive vice president of communications for iHeartMedia, the company announced today. According to the announcement, Aristone will continue to position iHeart as a media and entertainment leader through proactive strategic communication efforts on both a local and national level. She will also continue to oversee media relations and external [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara Out as Warner Bros. Chief Amid Sexual Impropriety Scandal

    Kevin Tsujihara has resigned his post as chairman-CEO of Warner Bros. following an investigation into his relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk and allegations he used his clout to help her find work at the studio. In a statement, Tsujihara said he realized “my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s [...]

  • TV Ad Sales Upfronts

    NBCUniversal, Sky Make Joint Ad Offering as TV Upfront Looms

    NBCUniversal and Sky PLC will offer joint packages of advertising services, a new effort to monetize the European satellite broadcaster, which was purchased by parent Comcast Corp. for $39 billion last year. Advertisers will be able to reach customers in sundry international markets as well as the United States, using inventory across NBCU and Sky [...]

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Head

    Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Global Head of Corporate Communications

    Amanda Collins has been named executive vice president and global head of corporate communications for Sony Music Entertainment, effective immediately, it was announced today by CEO Rob Stringer. According to the announcement, in this role she will be responsible for the company’s global internal and external communications strategy and its implementation around the world, working [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content