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Rupert Murdoch hailed as Australia’s ‘most influential’ businessman

Mr Murdoch’s decision to effectively retire capped off a remarkable run atop global Media that started with the small Adelaide News inherited from his father Keith Murdoch. By the end, Mr Murdoch had built a media empire unparalleled in modern times.

“Rupert Murdoch is one of Australia’s great business success stories, having built up News Corporation and Fox Corporation over the last seven decades both in Australia and overseas,” said fellow media mogul Kerry Stokes, who has done business both opposite and alongside Mr Murdoch for decades.

Lachlan Murdoch, left, and Rupert Murdoch attend a gala in New York. AP

“In his new role as Chairman Emeritus, I expect Rupert will continue to play an important role in both groups.”

Mr Murdoch’s retirement announcement, laced with vitriol against rivals in the media who he branded “elites”, suggests the businessman does not intend to pull back from public life.

“Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class,” Mr Murdoch wrote. “Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”

In the statement, Mr Murdoch also sought to connect the three generations of media proprietors in his family, from his father Keith to his son Lachlan.

“My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause,” he said.

The spotlight and scrutiny that comes with running the Murdoch empire now falls on Lachlan, who beat out his siblings to become his father’s chosen successor. In his own statement, Lachlan Murdoch congratulated his father on the “remarkable” career.

Sydney-based Lachlan Murdoch, seen here with wife Sarah Murdoch outside Catalina restaurant in April, will become chairman of both Fox Corp and News Corp. Edwina Pickles

“We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted.”

Lachlan Murdoch now sits at the controls of a vast media business, which includes the Australian newspapers, pay-TV operator Foxtel and digital real estate behemoth REA, UK newspapers The Sun and The Times and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. The younger Murdoch is also CEO of Fox Entertainment, parent company of Fox News.

“Lachlan Murdoch will handle the position of Chairman with aplomb and I wish them both every success in the future,” said Mr Stokes.

Through campaigning at his media titles, Mr Murdoch had an out-sized impact on politics in Australia, the US and UK. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, one of Mr Murdoch’s fiercest critics, said the media mogul has “always been fascinated by power – he’s drawn to it like a moth is to a flame.”

Kerry Stokes, left, and Rupert Murdoch, right, flank then AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick announcing a $2.5 billion TV rights deal. Simon O’Dwyer.

“And Rupert’s politics have evolved to be broadly right wing, I would say,” he said on Friday, predicting he would “remain extremely influential”.

“I think Lachlan is, if anything, more ideological than his father. So, I don’t think there’s going to be any change for the better, that’s for sure.”

Foreign minister Penny Wong tried to be more diplomatic despite Mr Murdoch’s titles targeting her political party and Labor governments.

“I think any fair-minded observer might say that, you know, some of the News Limited papers might not exactly be cheerleaders of the Labor Party but that’s what happens in a democracy,” Ms Wong told reporters.

“I wish him well for his retirement.”

Mr Murdoch became a constant subject of tabloid intrigue throughout his career, not only for the running a guessing game around succession, but around his love life.

Rupert Murdoch and Elena Zhukova on a trip to Greece last month. 

Earlier this year, the veteran executive called off his engagement to conservative radio host Ann-Lesley Smith. Last month, photos appeared in online gossip websites which showed Mr Murdoch had begun a relationship with Elena Zhukova, the former mother-in-law to Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich.

The editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal published a tribute to Mr Murdoch on his retirement, which pushed back against his critics and praised him for always defending them from outside pressure.

“At his core Mr Murdoch is a newspaperman. He likes the news business and believes in its mission to inform readers and, if possible, make the world better and freer for more people.

“In our personal experience over 16 years, the coverage by our media competitors of Mr Murdoch as a Machiavelli telling his journalists what to write couldn’t be further from the reality.”

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Rupert Murdoch hailed as Australia’s ‘most influential’ businessman


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