Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch
Odd Andersen  /  AFP-Getty Images file
Lachlan Murdoch, left, Rupert Murdoch’s son and a possible heir to his father’s leadership of News Corp., resigned his executive position with the firm Friday.
updated 7/29/2005 12:22:01 PM ET 2005-07-29T16:22:01

Lachlan Murdoch abruptly resigned as a senior executive of News Corp. Friday, ending his father Rupert’s hopes that he would some day run the global media conglomerate.

The younger Murdoch, who is 33 years old, will move back to Australia with his wife and son and remain a director of the company.

The unexpected move is sure to fan speculation over who will succeed Rupert Murdoch as CEO of News Corp. Murdoch is 74 years old but has not given any indication of when he plans to step aside.

Murdoch, whose family controls 30 percent of the company, has been grooming his sons as potential heirs to his throne, giving them greater degrees of responsibility.

Lachlan had been seen as his father’s favorite to succeed him, though investors have been dubious that the younger Murdoch was ready to take the helm.

Lachlan’s departure puts more pressure on News Corp. to clarify its succession plans. Chief operating officer Peter Chernin is a highly regarded executive who has broad responsibilities in running News Corp.’s far-flung businesses.

Lachlan had been deputy chief operating officer of the company since 2000, working closely with Chernin and overseeing News Corp.’s U.S. television stations, the New York Post and other businesses.

Rupert Murdoch said in a statement that he was “particularly saddened by my son’s decision.” He also said he “respected the professionalism and integrity that he has exhibited throughout his career” at the company.

Attention will now turn to Lachlan’s younger brother James, who runs BSkyB, a British satellite broadcasting business which is about 36 percent owned by News Corp.

James, who is 32, had been CEO of News Corp.’s Asian satellite broadcaster Star Group Ltd. and also held other senior posts at News Corp., including executive vice president.

James gave up his positions at News Corp. in 2003 as well as a seat on the company’s board when he took the reins at BSkyB. James’s appointment there had raised opposition from shareholders and led to accusations of nepotism.

Lachlan Murdoch began his career with News Corp. in his father’s native Australia in 1994. He began with cleaning presses at the Mirror newspaper, and took increasingly senior positions at the company’s Australian newspapers.

“I would like especially to thank my father for all he has taught me in business and in life,” Murdoch said in a statement. “It is now time for me to apply those lessons to the next phase of my career.”

News Corp. is one of the largest global media companies. Its properties include the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, DirecTV and the HarperCollins book publishing unit.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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