Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp board have postponed their visit to Australia this month due to scheduling conflicts, moving the media mogul’s first return to his home country since 2018 to later in the year.
The media conglomerate’s eight board members were expected to attend celebrations for the 60th anniversary of The Australian, the national broadsheet Murdoch launched in 1964.
But an update shared with invitees of the newspaper’s lunch event scheduled for February 20 said the celebrations would now have to take place later in the year. The new date is understood to be likely in July to coincide with the first printed edition of the masthead in the same month in 1964.
“Regrettably, it has become necessary to reschedule the luncheon on February 20, 2024. We look forward to celebrating The Australian’s 60th with you later in the year,” the note read.
After News Corp’s relocation to the US twenty years ago, annual visits to Australia by Murdoch and his top brass had been common, with the hands-on-media billionaire using it as an opportunity to comb over physical copies of the company’s mastheads, visit politicians and check in with senior editors.
While the pandemic halted international travel for several years, the 92-year-old’s health has also been a factor in his lengthy absence. A recent book written by American author Michael Wolff reported that Murdoch could not make it to his sister Anne Kantor’s funeral in 2022 in Australia due to health issues.
This month’s planned visit was expected to include the media company’s entire board of directors including Murdoch senior and his eldest son Lachlan, who became the sole chair of both News Corp and Fox Corp in November.
Also on the list were lead director, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s former mentor, Masroor Siddiqui, former US Senator Kelly Ayotte, former Spanish president José María Aznar, Natalie Bancroft of the Bancroft family (the previous owners of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal), Credit Suisse Brasil chair Ana Paula Pessoa and News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson.
Asked about the planned visit, a News Corp spokesperson said that “like most boards, they meet in different locations where they have business”.
Plenty has happened since Rupert Murdoch’s last trip down under, including the pandemic, two federal elections, and his recent passing of the baton to Lachlan.
Despite his stepping back to the new role of “chairman emeritus”, Murdoch’s plans to travel here with the board underline his continued activity within the company, promising its workforce in September that they would still find him walking office floors late at night.
“When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon,” he said at the time.
His son and successor is yet to turn his attention to News Corp’s operations, which includes local mastheads including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun, a majority stake in pay TV company Foxtel, real estate listings business REA Group, as well as global titles including Britain’s The Sun, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.
For now, Lachlan Murdoch remains fixed on Fox Corp, home of the conservative US pay news channel Fox News, said a source with knowledge of the company’s operations, speaking on condition of anonymity. Plans to merge the two listed companies are still firmly on his mind, they said.
Proposed by the Murdochs in October 2022, a mooted merger fell through several months later after it was determined the combination of the two businesses was “not optimal for shareholders” at the time.
News Corp will publish its second quarter earnings next Wednesday, February 7.
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Source: Thanks smh.com