Lawsuits mounted against John Malone, family of his former wife Lachlan, and other battles highlight rivals’ feud over control of Fox and other assets
‘Succession’ doesn’t miss a beat as its Murdochian family feud continues
The Murdochs’ rivalry of ambitions in global media appears to be intensifying as legal battles over Murdoch succession plans and Rupert’s relationship with his estranged second son, Lachlan, continue.
Last month, a New York attorney filed a lawsuit in a California state court accusing Lachlan, who was once seen as heir apparent to his father, of breaching his fiduciary duty to Fox.
In other developments, New York-based Lachlan’s father and legal heir, Rupert Murdoch, remains in charge of News Corp, which includes newspapers, the Fox entertainment empire and the Wall Street Journal.
Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
The latest news came on Friday, when Mark Geragos, a prominent lawyer who represented Tom Cruise, Howard Stern and other celebrities, said on Twitter that he would be representing Lachlan in his lawsuit against his father.
Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) Was consulted on an impending Lachlan news story. Not a work for hire. Many fun things to say in complaint….
The New York Post report also reported that a famous TV host who had worked with Lachlan at a previous company has paid him a $1m settlement.
Speculation is also rising on whether new holdings could be made in the future.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Ben Swinburne said last month that News Corp was a “great story” that he expected to reprice its shares this year.
Fox, which is scheduled to report results on Tuesday, has indicated it might sell some assets to Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel to fund its major-media push.
Sky may be next on the list to be sold, with bankers insisting the UK broadcaster “cannot survive as an independent business”.
Fox holds a 39% stake in Sky, with an option to raise it to 100%. But analysts say investors are holding off on giving up their stake in the stock until they get a better valuation for the company and it becomes clear what assets Fox plans to sell.
In 2012, News Corp split from its main broadcast television network and many of its newspapers to separate the slower-growing film and television businesses from the faster-growing publishing operations.
Fox, the entertainment company, struggled for years and has now regained most of its $25bn (£19.5bn) market value. It expects to increase revenue by $1.5bn this year.
Fox’s investor day last month was successful. It gave executives confidence about the entertainment strategy that included The Last Man on Earth and new films including Black Panther and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Yet Wall Street still lacks a clear position for the media company.
Analysts generally favour the entertainment business, which is more predictable and lures advertisers. Yet investors would also welcome the publishing business, which has a diverse range of publications that, historically, have sold a broad product.