James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, appears to have become heir apparent to his father's global business empire.

The younger Mr Murdoch is to assume control of News Corporation's operations in the UK, Europe and Asia – which include several UK newspapers such as the Sunday Times, the Times and the Sun.

In a separate statement pay-TV service BSkyB confirmed James Murdoch was standing down as its chief executive in order to assume his new senior role within the media group run by his family.

But in a controversial move he will replace his father as BSkyB's non-executive chairman, in a move which will give James Murcoch a continuing role within the company.

Reports say the appointment contravenes UK corporate governance best practice and suggests BSkyB's British shareholders could complain about his new position.

BSkyB's chief financial officer Jeremy Darroch will replace James Murdoch as the satellite TV company's chief executive.

Commenting on his son's new role at the Murdoch family-run News Corp, the company's chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said: "James is a talented and proven executive with a rare blend of international perspective and deep, hands-on experience in improving operational results.

"He has transformed Sky, which is now not only Europe's most valuable television company, but also the fastest growing challenger in the much larger UK marketplace for entertainment, broadband and telephony."

James Murdoch said he was "excited" at his new role within News Corp and "delighted" about his continuing relationship with BSkyB.

"News Corporation is the world's most global media company, made up of extraordinary and committed individuals that I am privileged to be joining," he stressed.

07/12/2007 08:02:42