Keith Rupert Murdoch
Net Worth: $4.9 billion
Source of Wealth: Media, entertainment, sports
Residence: Beverly Hills
At the annual Fox affiliate meeting held in Los Angeles at the beginning of June, Rupert Murdoch perhaps unintentionally resembled the power-hungry media czar in the latest James Bond thriller “Tomorrow Never Dies.”
Two big-screen images of Murdoch beamed in from Hong Kong, via satellite greeted the assembled executives. During his state-of-affairs address that focused on the global clout of News Corp., Murdoch told the affiliates in an ironic tone, “There’s no rest for the weary or the wicked.”
Although more commonly characterized as cunning and driven rather than wicked, Murdoch certainly hasn’t had much rest recently. Last year, some people were surprised to discover that media mogul Murdoch even lived in Los Angeles. Now, Murdoch has emerged as a major local figure with a sports empire that outstrips anything previously seen in this town.
In March, the Century City-based Fox Group, part of Murdoch’s News Corp., completed its $311 million purchase of the Dodgers. The following month, the Fox Group announced that it intended to buy a 40 percent stake in the downtown Staples Center, future home of the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. Through its stake in the Center, Fox will have the option to buy a 40 percent stake in the Kings and a 10 percent stake in the Lakers.
Not surprisingly, Murdoch is leveraging his sports ownership to bolster his television empire. Fox Sports has sewn up cable TV rights to L.A. teams, and the related Fox/Liberty Networks controls over 20 regional networks nationwide. Murdoch envisions sports as the marquee component in launching his satellite and cable systems, which currently touch five continents.
Murdoch has taken time from his frenetic globe trotting to nurture personal ties in Los Angeles. He and Mayor Riordan have met for dinner repeatedly, and Riordan has publicly spoken in glowing terms about Murdoch as L.A.’s new asset.
But Murdoch made headlines in April when he and his wife of 31 years, Anna, announced their separation. Anna, increasingly active in local fund-raising activities, is a member of the News Corp. board and the director of several Murdoch-owned companies. It’s believed that she will continue to hold these positions.
Wall Street generally has backed away from closely following News Corp. on a regular basis, with one analyst calling the company “feudal.” Murdoch controls about 30 percent of the company’s stock, and his presence is widely felt throughout the company’s divisions. News Corp.’s holdings include numerous newspapers and magazines around the globe, including the New York Post, Star TV in Asia, British Sky Broadcasting in the U.K., more than 20 U.S. television stations, and the fX and Fox Sports Net cable networks.