Keeping it in the family

Steve Dinneen
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RUPERT Murdoch likes to keep things in the family.

His son James is head of European operations at News Corp and chairman of BSkyB – the firm 39 per cent owned by News Corp and the target of a controversial takeover plan.

Now Elisabeth is about to be welcomed back into the fold after a ten-year hiatus.

Both her and James were groomed to play major roles in the Murdoch empire. She was a senior figure at BSkyB before quitting after a public row with executive Sam Chisholm. Her loss was keenly felt by her father, who will be especially glad to have her back on board after the departure of her brother Lachlan, the deputy chief operating officer at News Corp, who was seen as a shining light before his shock resignation in 2005.

After a TV production project with Sky collapsed, Elisabeth founded The Shine Group and built it from a niche player to the sixth most powerful independent production company in the UK.

She proved she is a shrewd operator, investing heavily in its international operations, most notably buying US production company Reveille, maker of hit show Ugly Betty.

She is now slated for a board role at News Corp, although it is unlikely her presence will prove particularly worrisome for James, who remains the heir apparent of the empire.

Regardless, the deal makes her a very rich woman. Already wealthy, she will personally collect in the region of £371m from the sale.

Elisabeth, 42, is Rupert Murdoch’s second daughter and the eldest of three children from his second marriage.

She has been married twice, first to banker Elkin Kwesi Pianim, then to communications mogul Matthew Freud, the son of former Liberal MP Sir Clement Freud, and great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.