Murdoch dynasty 'will end'

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire is unlikely to survive intact beyond its founder's lifetime and will be broken up, according to a former Murdoch lieutenant.

The prediction by Andrew Neil, the ex-Sunday Times editor, follows the decision by Rupert Murdoch's eldest son, Lachlan, to leave his job as News Corp's deputy chief operating officer to return to Australia. This has prompted speculation that his younger brother, James, BSkyB's chief executive, will now inherit the business when his father dies. But Mr Neil said yesterday that talk of dynastic empire-building after the surprise departure of Lachlan late last week is a sideshow. "The idea that he's going to create a dynasty in what is effectively a publicly quoted company ... it ain't going to happen," he said. "They [shareholders] are not going to give the company to someone simply because they have the name Murdoch." Peter Chernin, 53, News Corp's president and chief operating officer, is set to take over Lachlan's responsibilities. Mr Neil warned yesterday that the media empire, which encompasses newspapers to a Hollywood studio, is much more likely to be broken up when the founder dies. Waiting in the wings is John Malone, the cable magnate whose Liberty Media group last year built up a stake of just under 20% in News Corp.