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Volume 25 No. 24
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Deal With Disney Leaves Future Plans Unclear For Fox Heirs James, Lachlan Murdoch

The proposed $52.4B deal with Disney has "many wondering what the future holds" for Fox Exec Chair RUPERT MURDOCH and his sons LACHLAN and JAMES, who "seemed to be on the cusp of taking over his vast media holdings," according to a front-page piece by Barnes & Ember of the N.Y. TIMES. To Hollywood, the deal "looked like a family schism, with Lachlan, 46, solidly back in line to succeed his father as overseer of the family’s remaining businesses and James, 45, without a clear future at Disney." But sources said that James "encouraged the deal, in part because he had grown weary of the dysfunctional push and pull with his brother and father." Sources said that when Rupert told his sons that Disney Chair & CEO BOB IGER had called him to propose a takeover, James "got on board rather quickly." What James "will do now is more of a mystery." Sources said that James "may try to strike out on his own." But James has "never worked outside the family businesses." A role at Disney is a "possibility." However, Rupert recently said that the Disney deal included "no guarantees." Meanwhile, the Disney deal "signals a return" to Rupert's original succession plan, which "went awry in 2005 when Lachlan abruptly left the family business after sparring" with former Fox News Chair & CEO ROGER AILES. Although Lachlan has "not yet made a decision, Rupert has made it clear that he wants his elder son to run what they are calling New Fox." Sources said that Lachlan originally was "unenthusiastic about discarding such a large chunk of the family’s holdings." He "understood the threat posed by the technology giants, but he saw less need to rush into Disney’s arms" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/2).