John Nallen, currently CFO of 21st Century Fox, will serve as chief operating officer of New Fox. Rupert Murdoch will be co-chairman of New Fox.
“We have worked through the winter ‘standing up’ a reimagined independent Fox. The strengths of the new company, a leader in News, Sports and Entertainment, present truly unique opportunities,” said Lachlan Murdoch. “I am also personally very pleased that John has agreed to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer, and together we look forward to making further announcements as to the management and structure of this new Fox as we get closer to closing our proposed transaction with Disney.”
The appointments of Lachlan Murdoch and Nallen had been expected, as was the fact that there is no role for current 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch in the new company. Wednesday’s announcement also fails to address questions about the fate of myriad other executives including current 21st Century Fox co-president Peter Rice and Fox Television Group chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
Lachlan has served as executive chairman of 21st Century Fox since early 2015, when he and his younger brother James were named chairman and CEO, respectively, of their father’s film and TV empire.
The deal with Disney, announced in December, was taken as a signal that Lachlan would be set up as his father’s successor atop Fox. Speculation about James at the time of the deal centered on a possible role at Disney, where CEO Bob Iger’s contract had been slated to end in 2019, and an heir apparent was not in place. But Iger went on to extend his contract through 2021. The Wall Street Journal reported this month that James will not take a position with Disney after the Fox acquisition.
The New Fox will revolve squarely around TV assets including the Fox Broadcasting Co. network and its TV station group, and the Fox News and Fox Sports operations. The rest of its major Hollywood assets are in line to be sold to Disney in a $52.4 billion all-stock deal. However, Comcast has let it be known that it is strongly considering mounting a rival bid for the 21st Century Fox assets. That would undoubtedly delay, if not derail, the Disney sale process and the formation of New Fox.
“The new Fox will begin as the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a US audience,” said Rupert Murdoch.
21st Century Fox gave the first glimpse of its plans for the Fox network in the New Fox era on Monday when it presented its programming schedule to advertisers in New York. As expected, the new-model Fox Broadcasting Co. will emphasize live sports and events.
“The opportunity to reshape a business strategy and an operational approach uniquely tailored to the new Fox is truly compelling,” said Nallen. “I look forward to joining Lachlan as we begin to establish new Fox.”
(Pictured: Lachlan Murdoch)
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