Robert Thomson to head up News Corp's publishing arm

News International's Tom Mockridge, who also wanted the role, quits after 22 years with Murdoch

LAST UPDATED AT 15:30 ON Mon 3 Dec 2012

ROBERT THOMSON, former editor of The Times and currently managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, is to become chief executive of a new publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The appointment is widely believed to explain the sudden departure of Tom Mockridge as chief executive of Murdoch's British publishing branch, News International. According to the BBC, Mockridge was passed over for the top job and decided to quit.

Thomson's promotion had been mooted on both sides of the Atlantic before Rupert Murdoch tweeted his congratulations today.

The announcement is part of a major restructuring of News Corp, which is being split into two businesses: a dominant TV and film arm, called Fox Group, and a newspaper and book publishing division, which will retain the News Corporation moniker. It is this company which Thomson will head.

According to The Guardian, the main assets of News Corporation will be News International's UK titles The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times, the WSJ, the New York Post, the Australian and other News Ltd papers and the HarperCollins book publishing business.

The Daily Telegraph notes that Thomson, 51, and the octogenarian Murdoch have much in common, besides a deep love of newspapers. "Both Mr Murdoch and Mr Thomson come from Australia, share the same birthday and have Chinese wives. Mr Thomson was the only non-family member from News Corp to attend the baptism of Mr Murdoch's youngest daughter in the river Jordan, while Mr Thomson made Mr Murdoch godfather to his two sons," says the paper.

Perhaps the least surprising part of the News Corp restructuring is the announcement that The Daily, launched in February 2011 as "the world's first iPad-only newspaper", is being canned. The Daily was reportedly losing $30m a year. News Corp said today that "technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into The New York Post".

Mockridge's departure means the end of a 22-year association with News Corporation. Most recently, he was brought in from Sky Italia to replace Rebekah Brooks at the head of News International when she resigned last summer in the wake of the phone hacking crisis.

News Corp said the New Zealander was leaving "to pursue outside opportunities". Murdoch said: "Tom has always been a skilled executive and a trusted friend. His decision to step down is absolutely and entirely his own." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.