Friday, August 5, 2005

Trouble in Murdoch paradise?

We can only hope. From Australia:

"Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his eldest son Lachlan, who last week resigned from the family's News Corporation, have denied reports the departure is related to a dispute over inheritances, reports say.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Lachlan's resignation was prompted in part by Murdoch senior's decision to make sweeping changes to his family's shareholding in News Corporation which would substantially reduce the power of his four adult children.

The changes would give Murdoch's two infant children with third wife Wendi Deng an equal interest in the AE Harris Trust which holds the family's 6.17 billion US dollar holding in News Corp., it said without naming sources.

"There is no dispute. All my children will be treated equally and I look forward to the day when Lachlan wants to return to News Corporation," Rupert Murdoch said, according to reports attributed to New Corp's US spokesman.

The company's Australian spokesman, Greg Baxter, also said that Lachlan Murdoch's decision to leave News Corp. was based solely on his desire to return to Australia and begin the next phase of his career.

"There is no relationship between his decision and the speculation and rumours," Baxter told The Australian.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the changes to the shareholdings would invalidate the deal Murdoch struck with former wife Anna during their divorce proceedings in 1999.

That deal granted Anna's three children, Elizabeth, Lachlan and James, as well as Murdoch's daughter from his first marriage, Prudence McLeod, control of the trust in the event of his death.

Under the new deal, Deng will become the most powerful player in the family trust when Murdoch dies because she will act as guardian to her two children, Grace, 3 and Chloe, 2, until they can claim their inheritance at the age of 30.

The review said that simmering tensions among the older Murdoch children about Deng's role had culminated in the resignation of Lachlan, 33, from his position as deputy chief operating officer for the global media organisation on Friday.

News Corp. sources also hinted at disagreements between Rupert and Lachlan over the father's interference in the Fox TV station group run directly by Lachlan.

Lachlan has also felt undermined by senior executives and was at odds with News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin, it said."

Emphasis in bold is mine.

No comments: