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No more Family Guy: James Murdoch to leave Fox after Disney deal

Christopher Williams
The Murdoch brothers Lachlan (left) and James have run Fox with their father since 2015

James Murdoch will leave 21st Century Fox after most of its assets are sold to Disney, handing executive responsibilities to his elder brother Lachlan.

The maker of Family Guy and The Simpsons confirmed the operations of the “New Fox” due to be formed by the sale of its film and television studios, and a clutch of international assets including Sky, will be led by 46-year-old Lachlan. Rupert Murdoch will remain joint chairman.

Sky chairman James, 45, will not be involved in running a much smaller US-only company focused on news and sport.

TheWall Street Journal, owned by the Murdoch publishing company News Corp, has reported that he intends to set up a venture capital fund to invest in media and technology start-ups.

The three Murdoch men have ruled Fox as a triumvirate for three years, with James as chief executive and Lachlan and Rupert as joint chairmen. The surprise decision to sell most of the company to Disney last year triggered speculation over James’ future in the family business.

Disney/Fox merger

He is known to be more interested in the entertainment industry than the news empire on which the family fortune is built. The 45-year-old had a bruising experience in British newspapers at the centre of the phone hacking scandal.

After Fox announced its deal with Disney last year there were speculative reports that James could move with the Murdoch assets. He was named as a potential candidate to succeed Bob Iger but the Disney boss publicly quashed the suggestion of any such an arrangement.

Rupert said: “The new Fox will begin as the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a US audience.”

James was not mentioned in the announcement of the “New Fox” leadership. He is due to strike out alone for the first time since he backed the hip-hop record label Rawkus in 1995.

There remains significant uncertainty over how the $52bn (£39bn) Fox deal with Disney will play out, however.

The cable giant Comcast, which has already gatecrashed the Murdoch bid to bring the whole of Sky under the Fox umbrella, is also preparing an attempt to gazump the bigger transaction with Disney.

It has prepared $60bn cash finance for a rival bid and is likely to mount an attack if a US court approves AT&T’s comparable takeover of Time Warner, owner of HBO.