Biographer sees News Corp minus Murdochs in 60 days

LONDON Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:32am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's biographer says the Murdoch family will no longer be running News Corporation in 60 days' time, and predicts a massive shake-up at the company as it tries to detach itself from a family name he describes as "toxic."

"I think actually the Murdochs have to and will step out of not only day-to-day running, but they won't have jobs within the company," writer Michael Wolff told Reuters Insider TV late on Thursday.

Wolff said the days of embattled News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch and his son James were numbered because of their handling of a phone hacking scandal that has engulfed the U.S. company's British newspaper operations.

He said he expected them to step down within two months.

"To restore credibility and to restore trust to this company, the newspapers have to go and the Murdochs have to go," said Wolff, a Vanity Fair columnist and editorial director of advertising industry magazine Adweek.

"I think at the end of the day, what we have here is that the Murdoch name is toxic. I think that this company, its shareholders, its directors, its other managers will want to get as far away from that name as possible," he said.

News Corp directors would face a "lifetime of litigation" if the Murdochs stayed at the helm of the company, he added.

Earlier on Thursday James Murdoch was unanimously confirmed as chairman by BSkyB's board, a vote of confidence in the executive by News Corp's 39 percent-owned UK satellite broadcasting business.

James Murdoch is also deputy chief operating officer of News Corp.

BSkyB announced on Friday it would return 750 million pounds to shareholders through a share buyback and raise its final dividend to 14.54 pence a share, after reporting full-year sales and profits above expectations.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Tim Pearce)

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