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Abruptly Resigns News Corp. Posts; Plans Return to Australia

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NEW YORK ( -- Lachlan Murdoch, the 33-year-old son of News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, is quitting the company to return to Australia with his wife and child, according to a surprise announcement this morning.
Photo: AP
News Corp. Cchairman Rupert Murdoch, left, with son Lachlan, who resigned his corporate posts today.

Remains a director
While Lachlan Murdoch will remain a director and advisor, he will relinquish roles that include publisher of the New York Post and chairman of the company’s TV station group. He was heavily involved in the selection of Fox Broadcasting’s fall schedule back in May.

In a statement today, Mr. Murdoch said: “I have resigned my executive position at News Corp. I will remain on the board and I am excited about my continued involvement with the company in a different role.”

Rupert Murdoch: 'Saddened'
In a statement released this morning, the elder MR. Murdoch said: “I am particularly saddened by my son’s decision and thank him for his terrific contribution to the company, and also his agreement to stay on board and advise us in a number of areas.”

The younger Mr. Murdoch was thought by many to be the front-runner to succeed his father as chairman-CEO of the company. It is unclear at this stage what prompted his decision to effectively take himself out of the running.

Clears way for brother
His departure clears the way for his brother James, who currently runs News Corp.'s TV assets, BSkyB, in the U.K., to ascend the throne if his father ever decides to step down.

A spokesman for BSkyB in London said the company had no comment on the situation. James Murdoch relinquished his News Corp. responsibilities in 2003 to become CEO of BSkyB, which is part-owned by News Corp.

One Wall Street analyst, who did not wish to be named, said his company had been briefing clients about the news this morning. “We feel James is really the life force there and don’t think this news is as disturbing as if James had been leaving.” He adding that there was market speculation that Lachlan Murdoch’s exit was related to a possible decision about the succession issue.

A graduate of Princeton University, Lachlan Murdoch was named “media person of the year” at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival last month.

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