Murdoch wields axe at Star’s Hong Kong HQ

Author: By Stephen Foley in New York

James Murdoch, the mogul’s son, who has been given responsibility for all of the family company’s Asian and European businesses, has ousted Star’s chief executive, Paul Aiello, and announced a restructuring that will see up to 200 job losses in Hong Kong ? about 30 per cent of the staff there.

From now on, Star will be organised in three distinct business divisions: Star India, Star Greater China, and Fox International Channels, which distributes English-language channels in the rest of Asia. India now accounts for more than three-quarters of Star’s approximately $1bn in annual revenue.

“While it was once natural to have a larger, regional headquarters, the company has now reached a scale in its key local markets where we are ready to empower the teams on the ground and move a number of functions to be closer to viewers,” James Murdoch said.

Mr Aiello will leave in December, and the bosses of the Chinese and Indian businesses will now report directly to Mr Murdoch.

Since being given his broader role at News Corp in February, Mr Murdoch has concentrated on increasing revenues at the British newspaper businesses, which include The Sun and The Times, but the appointment of Sun editor Rebekah Wade as News International chief executive in the UK allows him to turn his focus to Asia.

Mr Murdoch, 36, spent three years in Hong Kong running Star TV from 2000, before moving to the UK to run British Sky Broadcasting ? a varied apprenticeship in the family business that has made him the most likely candidate to succeed his 78-year-old father.

In sharp contrast to India, Star has struggled in China, for which Rupert Murdoch once held out great hopes. Other major foreign media such as Viacom, Disney and Time Warner have struggled there as well, as Beijing keeps them on a tight leash in the politically sensitive sector.

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