Lachlan Murdoch is poised to take the helm of News Corporation and 21st Century Fox when his billionaire father Rupert steps aside.
But the 42 year-old is unlikely to deviate from his ageing father’s strategy of growing the media businesses in the US, Europe and Asia, rather than markets such as Australia, analysts say.
Almost a decade after resigning from a senior role at News Corp, Lachlan Murdoch is back, as co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, alongside his 83 year-old father.
Morningstar media analyst Tim Montague-Jones said it was clear that Rupert Murdoch was installing his sons in chosen positions within the global empire.
“Lachlan is the person who will be potentially be in control of News Corporation and Fox in coming years if anything happened to Rupert,” he said.
Lachlan Murdoch’s appointment comes at the expense of his younger brother James, who now takes on the role of co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox.
James Murdoch’s chances of co-chairing the companies were harmed after News International was embroiled in the UK phone hacking scandal.
IG market analyst Evan Lucas questions whether Lachlan Murdoch was the best person for the job, following mixed results from the Ten Network over the past four years.
Mr Murdoch Jnr has stepped down from his position as chairman at Australia’s Network Ten as a result of his new appointment, but retains an 8.8 per cent shareholding in the company.
“He’s better than James,” Mr Lucas said.
“He probably will end up with it, but the media space is a very tricky sphere and there’s been a few others that may have been a bit more savy.”
Ten suffered an annual loss of $285 million in 2013, as it continued to struggle for ratings.
Analysts say the network is now a potential takeover target for News Corp, which owns Fox Sports and a 50 per cent stake in Foxtel.
Still, News Corp would need to overcome regulatory and competition hurdles if it wants to take control.
Mr Montague-Jones said the Seven and Nine networks would also do their utmost to ensure News Corp is prevented from holding a free-to-air licence.
“News Corp sees strategic value for a pay TV operator such as Foxtel owning a free-to-air TV channel, but the bigger question is whether the competition watchdog would allow such a transaction to occur – and it could end up in court,” Mr Montague-Jones said.
News Corp, which already has a large amount of Australian media assets, has refused to comment on whether it is interested in acquiring Ten.
Its shares were down 42 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $17.87 at 1530 AEDT.