London/New York: Rupert Murdoch has returned eldest son Lachlan to the leadership of his media empire and promoted younger son James, setting them up to succeed the 83-year-old tycoon.
Lachlan, 42, will become non-executive co-chairman of both entertainment company 21st Century Fox and publishing operation News Corp , sharing both roles with his father. He rejoins the company after quitting as deputy chief operating officer nearly 10 years ago amid friction with other News Corp executives.
James, 41, will become Fox`s co-chief operating officer alongside longtime Murdoch stalwart Chase Carey, the latest step in the younger son`s comeback after he was forced to relinquish some roles during a phone hacking scandal in Britain.
"I think it underlines the fact that it remains a family dynasty in spite of being a listed company," media commentator and former Murdoch editor Roy Greenslade said in a telephone interview. "The two boys are being prepared to inherit."
Both sons have at various times been seen as the heir apparent to their father, and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to work together when Murdoch finally hands over the companies.
The Murdoch family controls both Fox and News Corp through a trust that has a 38 percent ownership stake of Class B shares with voting rights.
"If there is any surprise, perhaps it`s bringing Lachlan back into Fox," Evercore analyst Alan Gould said in a telephone interview. "I would assume it does set up a little bit of a bake-off as to who will ultimately succeed at Fox."
It was largely expected that Lachlan might return to the newspaper and publishing arm of his father`s empire - which includes the Wall Street Journal, Australian newspaper and TV assets, and book publisher HarperCollins - once News Corp split into two separate businesses in 2013. Fox operates the movie studios, TV and cable properties.
The announcement of Lachlan`s return is a boost to Murdoch, who has always said he would like his children to be involved in the running of his sprawling media conglomerate.
"Lachlan is a strategic and talented executive with a rich knowledge of our businesses," his father said in a statement.
"James has done an outstanding job driving our global television businesses," Murdoch added.
"Our collective future has never been brighter."