In a surprise move, a top executive, age 56, is leaving News Corp. According to a News Corp. statement, he’s "stepping down from his position to pursue new opportunities."
The executive is Lawrence A. Jacobs, News Corp.’s senior executive vice president and group general counsel. No successor was immediately named to this key position.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog by our friend Joe Flint, "Jacobs has been with News Corp. for 15 years and has served as its general counsel since 2004. He also has played a key role in several major media deals, including the company’s purchase of The Wall Street Journal."
The report continues, "The departure of Jacobs comes at a crucial time for the company as it tries to clean up a legal mess in Britain having to do with an investigation into phone hacking of celebrities and politicians by News Corp.-owned newspapers. One black mark on Jacobs’ tenure was News Corp.’s settling a lawsuit against Valassis Communications, a coupon company that charged that the media giant was engaged in anti-competitve practices. News Corp. paid $500 million to settle the lawsuit."
In the News Corp statement about Jacobs’ departure from the company, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman and CEO, said, "I will always be grateful to Lon not only for his wise counsel, but for his key role in helping build News Corporation into one of the world’s largest and most successful diversified media companies. I know this was a difficult decision for him to make, but I understand his desire to try new challenges after more than 15 years of service to our Company, to our Board and to our stockholders.”
In the same statement Jacobs said, “I have had the great privilege of calling News Corporation my home for a decade and a half. Although it is never easy to choose the perfect time to leave, I am proud of what we have achieved and I have personally reached the point in my life where it seems appropriate, and exciting, to try something new. I will certainly focus on my continued philanthropic work, including efforts to expand educational opportunities to underserved communities.”