Rupert Murdoch endorses Carey as next in line

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch acknowledged  for the first time publicly that his son James is not the  preferred choice to succeed him as News Corp CEO, at least in  the near-term.

In the clearest indication yet that the phone hacking  scandal enveloping News Corp’s U.K. operations has damaged the  succession ambitions of James Murdoch, his father endorsed top  lieutenant Chase Carey for the job.

“Chase is my partner and if anything happened to me I’m  sure he’ll get it immediately — if I went under a bus,” the  elder Murdoch said in response to a question from a Reuters  reporter about succession on the company’s quarterly earnings  call.

Although News Corp has often said that it has a succession  plan in place, the company has never explicitly stated who  would ascend to the CEO role should Murdoch step down.

In testimony before Parliament last month, Murdoch  reiterated his long-held desire to see one of his children  succeed him. Until recently, his youngest son James, 38, had  been viewed as the likely successor after he was promoted to  deputy chief operating officer in March.

The younger Murdoch has been under pressure since the phone  hacking scandal, which erupted last month at News Corp’s UK  operations, forced the closure of its News of the World tabloid  and the arrest of 12 ex-staffers. News Corp’s UK business  ultimately reported to the younger Murdoch.

James Murdoch has to submit a written statement to a  British parliamentary committee by today responding to  accusations that he misrepresented statements in prior  testimony.

But James Murdoch hasn’t been completely exiled, however.  Murdoch, 80, added that he and Carey had “full confidence” in  James, leaving the door open for him to possibly become CEO in  the future.

In the meantime, the elder Murdoch has no immediate plan to  step aside despite the phone hacking scandal raising questions  about his leadership. “I hope the job won’t be open in the near  future,” Murdoch joked. He added that he has the full support  of News Corp’s board.

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