Rupert Murdoch preparing to step down as Fox CEO: reports

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Rupert Murdoch May Be Stepping Down as Fox CEO

Rupert Murdoch, the 84-year-old chief executive of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, is preparing to step down and name his son James as successor, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing sources close to the Murdoch family.

The elder Murdoch would stay on as chairman, according to the CNBC report.

It was unclear whether the reorganization would take place this year or at the start of 2016, CNBC said.

The next Fox board meeting will discuss the matter of succession, Bloomberg reported.

The company was not immediately available for comment.

The Murdochs own 39 percent of voting shares in Fox and News Corp, the company that operates newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and book publisher HarperCollins, through a family trust. Fox split from News Corp in 2013.

A Harvard University dropout, James spent his early career as a cartoonist and co-founder of hip hop label Rawkus Records, which was bought by News Corp.

He joined News Corp in 1996, at the age of 23 and was soon installed as head of the company's Asian assets, including Star India. Four years later, he was named CEO of BSkyB, now known as Sky, that is 39 percent owned by Fox.

Some key investors have been warming to the idea that James has the ability to run Fox.

In interviews, some top investors who know James, and other people familiar with the company, describe him as curious and a risk taker like his father. But they also cite two big differences that they like: James is less sentimental about certain assets than his father and he is more enthusiastic about courting shareholders.

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Rupert Murdoch preparing to step down as Fox CEO: reports
Rupert Murdoch attends the TIME 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Rupert Murdoch arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Rupert Murdoch, center, executive chairman of News Corporation, speaks during a panel discussion alongside moderator Catherine Livingstone right, and Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs at the B20 meeting of company CEOs in Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2014. Over 350 business leaders gathered in Sydney for the B20 Summit meeting to discuss and determine policy recommendations ahead of the G20 leaders meeting in Brisbane later this year. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, and Lachlan Murdoch seen at the Twentieth Century Fox Global Premiere of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Saturday, May 10, 2014, in New York City. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Katey Sagal and Hall of Fame inductee Rupert Murdoch pose backstage at the 2014 Television Academy Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Businessman Rupert Murdoch watches as President Barack Obama speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Obama answered questions on the economy, the problems with the new health care law roll out, immigration reform, and negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Executive Chairman of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch, gives the annual Lowy Lecture at the Town Hall in Sydney, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. The Lowy Institute is a think tank that researches political, strategic and economic issues. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
From left, Rupert Murdoch and wife Wendi Deng Murdoch arrive at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Viewing and After Party on Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 at the Sunset Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch listens during a forum on The Economics and Politics of Immigration where Murdoch and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to a business organization In Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
In this image from video, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch appears at Lord Justice Brian Leveson's inquiry in London, Wednesday April 25, 2012 to answer questions under oath about how much he knew about phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid. Murdoch is being grilled on his relationship with British politicians at the country's media ethics inquiry, while a government minister is battling accusations he gave News Corp. privileged access in its bid to take over a major broadcaster. (AP Photo/Pool)
A campaigner wearing a giant head mask of Rupert Murdoch holds up string puppets depicting British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a demonstration calling for Jeremy Hunt to resign, outside the High Court in London where News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch was given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Wednesday, April 25, 2012. News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch defended his globe-spanning, half-a-century long media career Wednesday, telling an inquiry into U.K. media ethics that he never called in favors from the powerful people his papers covered. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Rupert Murdoch arrives to the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO/ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ (Photo credit should read ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corporation looks on during a panel discussion at the B20 meeting of company CEO's on July 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Over 350 business leaders have gathered in Sydney for the 2014 B20 Summit to discuss and determine policy recommendations ahead of the G20 Leaders Meeting in Brisbane later this year. (Photo by Jason Reed - Pool/Getty Images)
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch is driven away from his home in central London, on June 26, 2014. News Corporation executive chairman Rupert Murdoch was in London, amid reports that police want to question him in the wake of the phone-hacking trial. The 83-year-old US-based media mogul flew into London, after the high-profile trial concluded with the conviction of Andy Coulson, one of his former British newspaper editors. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Rupert Murdoch listens to U.S. President Barack Obama make remarks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting, at the Four Seasons Hotel, on November 19, 2013, in Washington, DC. Obama discussed immigration reform and the health care rollout, among other topics. (Photo by Drew Angerer-Pool/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 31: News Corp executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch talks on October 31, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Murdoch delivered the 10th annual lecture at the Lowy Institute's annual black tie event in Sydney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 31: News Corp executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch talks on October 31, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Murdoch delivered the 10th annual lecture at the Lowy Institute's annual black tie event in Sydney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Australian press baron Rupert Murdoch gives a press conference at the Great Eastern Hotel in Liverpool Street, London, to report on his proposed take-over of the News of the World, the paper with the world's largest circulation, 24th October 1968. (Photo by Jim Gray/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Australian Businessman and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch (right) with U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963) at the White House, 1962. On the left is editor of the Sydney Daily Mirror, Zell Rabin (1932 - 1966). (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1986: Australian publisher and newspaper magnate, Rupert Murdoch. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

"James is a giant!" said Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a Murdoch family ally and one of Fox's top shareholders with a 6.6 percent voting stake, in a recent interview.

Fox shares were down 0.50 percent at $32.79, while News Corp shares were off 0.23 percent at $14.61 in early trading.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Writing by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Howard Goller)

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