Media moghul Rupert Murdoch turns 80 on Friday, March 11.
Critics may wish that the Australian-turned-American would simply retire, but in truth the business he runs has never been more powerful than it is now, as he stands on the threshold of completing his biggest ever transaction, the £8bn or so buyout of BSkyB’s other shareholders.
His recent moves could be seen as part of a tidying-up which prepares the company for whenever Murdoch does choose to retire.
BSkyB was previously run by his heir-apparent and youngest son James. There is now also a company role for daughter Elisabeth following the agreed £415m purchase of her production company Shine. Both sit on the board — as does brother Lachlan, though he remains for the moment outside the business, building up media investments in Australia.
There is little sign that Murdoch is losing his way. “I had lunch with him recently,” says Kelvin MacKenzie, who edited the Sun through most of the 1980s. “He was going on about the iPad this and internet that. I think he’s 80 going on 18.”
Murdoch’s News Corp is predicted by BTIG Research to have worldwide revenues of about $44bn, with BSkyB included, and pre-tax profits of $8.7bn in 2015. A remarkable state for a company that was once a phone call away from going under.