Lachlan Murdoch
Murdoch in 2013
Born
Lachlan Keith Murdoch

(1971-09-08) 8 September 1971 (age 52)
London, England
Nationality
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Occupation(s)Executive chairman, Nova Entertainment
Executive chairman and CEO, Fox Corporation
Executive chairman, News Corp
Spouse
(m. 1999)
Children3
Parents
RelativesMurdoch
Notes

Lachlan Keith Murdoch (/ˈlɒklən/;[2] born 8 September 1971) is an Australian-British-American businessman and mass media heir.[1][3] He is the executive chairman of Nova Entertainment, chairman of News Corp, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation,[4][5] and the founder of Australian investment company Illyria Pty Ltd.

Early life and education

Murdoch was born on 8 September 1971 at Wimbledon Hospital in Wimbledon, London,[6] the eldest son of Australian-born American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and his former wife, Scottish journalist and author Anna Maria dePeyster (née Torv; formerly Murdoch). He was raised in New York City where his father owned the New York Post. He received his primary and secondary education at the Aspen Country Day School in Aspen, Colorado, Trinity School in New York City, and at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In 1994, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Princeton University.[7] While at Princeton, he studied philosophy with Béatrice Longuenesse and Alan Hajek.[8]

Career

News Corp executive

In 1989, Rupert Murdoch brought Lachlan Murdoch, then 18 years old, to Australia while on business, to have Lachlan trained for three months at the Daily Mirror. At the age of 22, Murdoch was appointed general manager of Queensland Newspapers, the publisher of Brisbane's Courier-Mail.[9] One year later, he became publisher of Australia's first national paper, The Australian. In 1995, he was appointed deputy CEO of News Limited, executive director of News Corporation in 1996, deputy chief operating officer in 2000; he was made senior executive vice president from 1999 to 2000, and has been chairman of STAR since 1995.[citation needed]

Encouraged to invest in One.Tel by his friend Australian businessman James Packer, the son of television network owner Kerry Packer, Murdoch was extensively criticised for encouraging News Corporation's multi-hundred million-dollar investment in the start-up telecommunications company.[10] In April 2014, Murdoch and Packer agreed to an A$40 million settlement over the failure of One.Tel. The settlement was approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 17 April 2014, with A$14.93 million to be paid by the Packer family's Consolidated Press Holdings, A$11.77 million to be paid by Packer's Crown Resorts and A$13.3 million to be paid by News Corp.[11]

Murdoch led an initial $10.75 million investment, of which only $2.25 million was in cash, in REA Group, and subsequently championed the retention of the investment over the objections of those who wished to sell it. The company later emerged as Australia's market leader in online real estate advertising, and in 2014 was assessed as worth more than $3.6 billion to News Corp.[12] With a personal interest in Australian rugby league, on 30 March 1995 Murdoch was at the first Super League meeting in the Atanaskovic Hartnell offices in Sydney. He and former Brisbane Broncos chief John Ribot signed up leading Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs players on documents which were not legally effective. Murdoch was the Broncos' number one ticket holder.[13][14][15] For the year 2001, Murdoch earned a salary of A$2.59 million.[16] In June 2005, Murdoch received the Press & Outdoor Advertising "media person of the year" award in Cannes.[17] Murdoch is one of the founding patrons (along with Anthony Pratt, Peter Lowy and Lisa Fox) of an organisation called "Advance", formerly known as the Young Australian Professionals in America.[18]

In July 2005, the 33-year-old Murdoch abruptly resigned as an executive at the News Corp. The unexplained departure apparently dashed News Corp. Chief executive Rupert Murdoch's hopes that his son would one day take over as CEO of the global media empire, which then included the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, now a subsidiary of Disney Studios; and includes the Fox television network, several satellite broadcasters, and newspapers in Britain, Australia, and the United States. Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News Channel, was named chairman of News Corp's group of television stations to succeed Murdoch junior. Media speculated that his brother, James Murdoch, then chief executive of UK satellite TV company BSkyB, may succeed Rupert Murdoch.[19][20][21][22][23] During his time as an executive at News Corp, Murdoch was the deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, now 21st Century Fox. He had oversight of HarperCollins and the company's lines of business in Australia, including REA. He also served on the board of Foxtel and as chairman of Fox Television stations and was the publisher of the New York Post.[24] He was appointed to the News Corp board in 1996.[19]

Private investment activities

On leaving News Corp with a two-year non-compete agreement,[25] Murdoch founded an Australian private investment company, Illyria Pty Ltd.,[26] and developed an eclectic mix of investments, with stakes in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team Rajasthan Royals, online DVD rental company Quickflix, toy marketer Funtastic and digital media company Destra.[25] On 21 January 2008, Murdoch and James Packer announced that their companies, Illyria and Consolidated Press Holdings would seek to privatise the publicly-listed Consolidated Media Holdings. It was expected that the proposed A$3.3 billion deal would deliver Murdoch and Packer with private stakes in Foxtel, Fox Sports, Universal Media Firm, LLC and PBL Media, with the latter owning the Nine Network and ACP Magazines.[25][27] Packer eventually decided to sell down his stake in media companies in a series of transactions between 2006 and 2008,[28][29] and the deal with Murdoch collapsed.

In November 2009, Murdoch acquired 50% of Nova Entertainment via Illyria and he became chairman. In September 2012 Illyria acquired the balance of shares it did not own.[25][30]

In 2010, Packer purchased an 18% stake in Network Ten, quickly offloading half to Murdoch. Both Packer and Murdoch joined the Ten board.[31] In February 2011, Murdoch was appointed acting CEO of Ten Network Holdings after the company's board terminated the contract of CEO Grant Blackley.[32] The following month Packer unexpectedly resigned from the board.[33][34] In February 2012, the Ten board appointed Murdoch non-executive chairman of Ten Network Holdings.[35] Although Ten was already in some financial difficulties before Murdoch became CEO, by late 2012, on paper Illyria had lost A$110 million of the original A$150 million invested since 2010. The share price had fallen by about 80% and network profits had dropped by over half. In an attempt to control costs, Ten had reduced employment numbers by 160 people, and the problems were mainly attributed to falling advertising revenues and restructuring at the network. Ten purchased, at three times its original cost,[36] the Australian rights for MasterChef from the Australian subsidiary of the Shine Group, itself a subsidiary of the News Corp–owned 21st Century Fox. On 14 June 2017, Ten went into voluntary administration after Murdoch and fellow shareholder Bruce Gordon declined to extend the company's credit facility.[37][38] Two bids were received for Ten; one from Murdoch and Gordon and one from CBS Corporation – Ten's largest creditor. The CBS bid was preferred by both the administrators and creditors.[39] CBS's successful bid meant Murdoch lost his entire investment in the network.[40]

Return to the family fold

In March 2014, Murdoch was appointed as non-executive co-chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. in a move that was seen as succession planning for the media empire.[41][42][43][44][45][46] Murdoch stood aside as chairman and a Director of Ten Network Holdings.[47] In June 2015 he was named as Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox.[48]

After 21st Century Fox was acquired by Disney in March 2019, Murdoch was named as the chairman and CEO of the Fox Corporation.[49] His father was still hoping "to continue an active role in the company.”[50]

Lawsuits

Dominion lawsuit

Main article: Dominion v. Fox News Network

In 2021, Lachlan Murdoch and his father Rupert were the defendants in a $1.6 billion lawsuit, filed by voting machine maker Dominion Voting Systems, for knowingly and maliciously spreading false accusations that Dominion committed election fraud. Dominion claimed, in the aftermath of Donald Trump's loss of the 2020 presidential election, that Fox News began to lose viewership, and was negatively impacted, as President Trump criticised Fox News and bolstered competitors that would spread his accusations of fraud. Dominion continued that, under the direction of Lachlan Murdoch, Fox News then made unsubstantiated accusations of fraud against Dominion, and intentionally invited guests that Fox News' hosts knew were making false and defamatory statements, while the hosts endorsed, repeated, and amplified statements they knew to be defamatory and false.

Fox News Corporation requested that the case be dismissed and on 16 December 2021, the court rejected the request, with the opinion that "Dominion adequately pleaded actual malice by Fox News". On 6 June 2022, Fox News Corp requested Judge Eric M. Davis drop the lawsuit. In his opinion, Judge Davis denied the request, saying that Dominion had shown enough evidence of actual malice on behalf of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch of Fox Corporation to allow the case to continue.[51]

In April 2023, Fox News Corp settled with Dominion for $787.5 million.[52]

Crikey controversy

Murdoch sent a series of legal threats to Crikey, an Australian electronic magazine, after political editor Bernard Keane tied the Murdochs to the January 6 United States Capitol attack in a 29 June 2022 article.[53] Keane gave the opinion "If Trump ends up in the dock for a variety of crimes committed as president, as he should be, not all his co-conspirators will be there with him. Nixon was famously the 'unindicted co-conspirator' in Watergate. The Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis." Crikey originally removed the article to avoid legal persecution but later republished it with Editor Peter Fray accusing Murdoch of "using the law to silence public debate", and "seeking to intimidate us".[54]

On 21 April 2023, Murdoch's lawyers filed a notice to discontinue the case. In response, the chief executive of Private Media which owns Crikey, Will Hayward claimed victory, saying the decision amounted to a "substantial victory for legitimate public interest journalism... We stand by what we published last June, and everything we laid out in our defence to the court. The imputations drawn by Murdoch from that article were ridiculous."[55][56]

Pending lawsuits

Smartmatic lawsuit

In a lawsuit similar to Dominion's, voting machine maker Smartmatic filed a lawsuit implicating both Lachlan Murdoch and his father Rupert for US$2.7 billion on 4 February 2021. Smartmatic claims "Fox News engaged in conspiracy to spread disinformation about Smartmatic. They lied, and did so knowingly and intentionally." In March 2022, Justice David Cohen allowed the removal of several hosts as co-defendants but rejected Fox's motion for dismissal of the suit allowing it to go to the discovery phase. In a second attempt from Fox News to dismiss the lawsuit, Justice David Cohen again rejected Fox's request and gave the opinion that Smartmatic had showed a "substantial basis" for their claim that Fox News "showed a reckless disregard for the truth".[57] Both Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch's emails are being sought in discovery to show the extent to which they knew their statements were false.

Personal life

Murdoch married British-born Australian model/actress Sarah O'Hare in 1999. The couple have two sons, Kalan Alexander (born 9 November 2004), and Aidan Patrick, (born 6 May 2006);[58] and one daughter, Aerin Elisabeth (born 12 April 2010), named for his sister and grandmother.[1][59]

The Murdochs owned "Berthong", a house in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, until it was sold to Russell Crowe in 2003.[60] In November 2009, Murdoch purchased "Le Manoir", a 4,097-square-metre (44,100 sq ft) mansion in Bellevue Hill for $23 million; and purchased an adjoining 1,049-square-metre (11,290 sq ft) property two years later.[61][62] In 2017, Murdoch and his wife paid US$29 million for a large equestrian property in Aspen, Colorado, that contains a 1,250-square-metre (13,500 sq ft) six-bedroom home.[63] In 2019, they purchased the Chartwell Estate in Los Angeles for an estimated US$150 million.[64][65]

Net worth

Year Financial Review
Rich List
Forbes
Australia's 50 Richest
Rank Net worth (A$) Rank Net worth (US$)
2018[66][67] n/a unlisted n/a unlisted
2019[68][69] 18 Increase $3.62 billion Increase n/a unlisted
2020[70] 22 Decrease $3.76 billion Increase
2021[71] 22 Steady $4.43 billion Increase
2022 28 Decrease $4.00 billion Decrease
2023[72] 33 Decrease $3.35 billion Decrease
Legend
Icon Description
Steady Has not changed from the previous year
Increase Has increased from the previous year
Decrease Has decreased from the previous year

Ancestry

See also

References

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Further reading