Rupert Murdoch steps down from Fox and News Corp with son Lachlan to take over media empire

Rupert Murdoch – the world’s most powerful and divisive media tycoon – is stepping down as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp, after almost 70 years at the helm of his sprawling empire.

In a letter to colleagues, the Australian-born businessman, 92, who owns Fox News, The Times newspapers and The Sun, said it was the right time “to take on different roles”.

His eldest son Lachlan Murdoch will take over at the helm of both companies, ending long-running speculation that saw him vie with his brother James for control of the businesses – a storyline mirrored in the globally successful HBO series Succession.

Mr Murdoch, reported to have a net worth of over $17bn (£13.8bn) according to Forbes, said he will become chair emeritus of the two corporations and vowed to remain “engaged” in the businesses, which span United States, UK, Europe and Australia.

In a statement, he said: “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change.

“But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole chairman of both companies.”

The mogul, who said he was “proud” of his achievements, also criticised the “elites” – and the media “in cahoots” with them – as he promised to “be involved every day in the contest of ideas”.

“Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them,” he said.

The announcement comes after a turbulent year for Mr Murdoch and his empire, with him recently ditching plans to merge his Fox and News Corp operations.

In April, Fox agreed to pay $787.5m in a settlement to voting machine firm Dominion after a lengthy legal case related to Fox’s reporting of the 2020 presidential election, which Donald Trump lost, in the States.

Fox also faces an unresolved lawsuit from fellow voting machine firm Smartmatic, which is seeking around $2.7bn.

Personally, he also announced he was divorcing his fourth wife, the supermodel Jerry Hall, in 2022. Then, in April, he abruptly called off his engagement to Ann Lesley Smith, 66, after just two weeks, with one source citing Mr Murdoch’s alleged discomfort with her evangelical views.

Mr Murdoch’s News Corp, which has headquarters in New York, owns hundreds of local, national and international news outlets. The company owns the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, a conservative-leaning tabloid, as well as HarperCollins.

The British arm of Murdoch’s media empire, News UK, publishes nearly a third of national papers sold every day, including The Sun and The Times.

He is credited with helping New Labour gain power having been privately courted by Tony Blair following 18 years of Conservative rule across three decades and two prime ministers.

Murdoch began building his empire in Australia during the 1950s

Mr Murdoch first started to build his empire in Australia during the 1950s after he inherited his father’s interests in the Adelaide newspaper the News.

In 1969, he took on Fleet Street with the purchase of the News of the World and The Sun, which would both become two of the most successful and bestselling tabloids in the UK.

He went on to purchase The Times and Sunday Times in 1981, while also building his empire in America with the acquisition of the New York Post.

Murdoch later expanded into television to create Fox News Channel, now the most popular news network in the US.

His son Lachlan has been named as his successor

Murdoch with News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks in 2011

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