Ivanka Trump oversaw Murdoch daughters’ trust

Role underscores close ties between US president’s family and Fox News

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka was a trustee for a large bloc of shares in 21st Century Fox and News Corp that belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s two youngest daughters, underscoring the close ties between the US president’s family and the mogul behind the Fox News Channel.

The president’s daughter was a trustee of Grace and Chloe Murdoch, Mr Murdoch’s children by his ex-wife Wendi Deng, during the campaign. The two girls, aged 15 and 13, hold shares worth close to a combined $300m in the two media groups, which are controlled by Mr Murdoch and his family, and an additional interest in Murdoch companies worth more than $2bn.

A spokesman for Mr Murdoch declined to comment on Ms Trump’s role on a five-person trustee board, which was confirmed by several people briefed on the situation who said she was a trustee for several years. A spokesperson for Ms Trump told the Financial Times that she stepped down from the board on December 28.

Ms Trump has no official White House role, unlike her husband, Jared Kushner, a key adviser to the president. However, she sat in on a White House meeting last week with top business executives including Mary Barra of General Motors, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump responded to Nordstrom’s recent decision to drop Ms Trump’s fashion brand from its department stores with a tweet defending her: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing!”

Ms Trump has been friends with Mr Murdoch and Ms Deng for several years. The New Yorker reported in August that when Ms Trump and Mr Kushner briefly broke up in 2008 before they were married it was Ms Deng and Mr Murdoch who helped them repair their relationship, inviting them to the family yacht.

Publicly, the 85-year-old Mr Murdoch has taken a back seat in the running of his two companies after giving his sons, James and Lachlan, high-profile new jobs 18 months ago. James Murdoch is chief executive of 21st Century Fox while Lachlan Murdoch is chairman, alongside his father — a role he also holds at News Corp.

The two sons led the recent bid by Fox for Sky, the European pay-TV group, and were instrumental in commissioning the independent investigation into harassment claims against Roger Ailes last summer. The investigation ultimately led to the former Fox News chairman being pushed out of the company.

However, the elder Mr Murdoch remains active behind the scenes and has been running Fox News on an interim basis since the departure of Mr Ailes. When Megyn Kelly, the presenter who clashed with Mr Trump during the campaign, left Fox News last month for a lucrative deal at NBC, Mr Murdoch personally selected her replacement, Tucker Carlson, to take her 9pm slot. Mr Carlson’s appointment means that the key three prime hours on Fox News are presented by Trump supporters.

Mr Murdoch is said to be in regular contact with the new president and his daughter, according to people briefed on the situation. The close ties between the families have endured since the election, according to multiple people aware of the relationships.

New York magazine recently reported that Mr Trump had asked Mr Murdoch to suggest candidates to run the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the media industry and is likely to scrutinise AT&T’s $85.4bn takeover of Time Warner, a company that Mr Murdoch and his sons tried to buy two years ago.

Mr Murdoch had, in return, requested restrictions on AT&T’s proposed purchase of Time Warner, the magazine claimed. Fox declined to comment on the claims.

by: Matthew Garrahan, Financial Times of London. 2/8/2017


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