News Corp’s Rebekah Brooks joins Lachlan Murdoch in Sydney ahead of major Australian newspaper restructure

<span>Rebekah Brooks, one of the Murdochs’ most trusted lieutenants, is among the top News Corp executives in Sydney ahead of a major announcement.</span><span>Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA</span>
Rebekah Brooks, one of the Murdochs’ most trusted lieutenants, is among the top News Corp executives in Sydney ahead of a major announcement.Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA

Lachlan Murdoch has been joined in Sydney by the News Corp UK boss, Rebekah Brooks, and global chief, Robert Thomson, ahead of the announcement of a major restructure of the Australian newspapers next week.

Guardian Australia understands Rupert Murdoch’s right-hand man, Thomson, Lachlan and Brooks held meetings in Sydney on Tuesday with News Corp’s local chief, Michael Miller, and others to sign off on the transformation of the company.

It is not often Murdoch’s global media executives gather in Sydney, signalling the announcement is significant.

Related: Prince Harry fails in bid to name Rupert Murdoch in phone-hacking case

Lachlan Murdoch, who became the sole chair of News Corp last year when Rupert stepped down, spends half his time in Sydney.

Brooks is one of Rupert’s most trusted lieutenants and Thomson, an Australian, has run the global empire for Rupert for more than a decade.

Staff are bracing for significant cuts as the media giant moves to slash tens of millions of dollars in costs to counter the decline of print and a slow advertising market.

Cuts were also deemed necessary after Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, said it would not be renewing three-year content deals struck with News Corp under Australia’s news media bargaining code.

Meta said it would stop paying all Australian publishers for news, and planned to shut down its news tab in Australia and the US.

Facebook, along with Google, signed dozens of deals with publishers in 2021 worth an estimated $200m to avoid being “designated” under the Australian government’s news media bargaining code, which would have forced the digital platforms to negotiate with news publishers for the use of news content on the platforms.

Sources said consulting firm PwC was hired by News Corp earlier this year to help make changes to the management structure and to streamline operations.

The Australian’s editorial resources have been cut drastically in recent years and redundancies have continued this year, but the tabloids are said to be most affected by the cuts as the company moves towards more centralised reporting.

The newspapers already share some reporting from a centralised news wire which supplies all the mastheads with the same copy.

With so many executives in town, staff at Holt Street were told to keep their desks tidy, sources said.

The restructure follows a difficult period last year, which saw News Corp cut 1,250 roles after a plunge in profits of almost a third. Thomson broke the news of job losses after presenting the company’s second-quarter results in New York last year.

Mastheads the Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun had a 5% headcount reduction after a decline in earnings for Murdoch’s international newspaper stable of US$59m.

In Australia the company cut one in 20 staff at its local operations after the company posted a 47% decline in earnings in its news media division and lower quarterly revenue overall.

News Corp Australia would be split into three divisions: the free site in one, the paywalled tabloids in a metro division and The Australian and magazines Vogue Australia, GQ Australia and Wish in a third so-called prestige division, the Australian Financial Review reported last month.

Miller will deliver a speech at the National Press Club on 5 June, which is expected to address Meta and the tech giants and is titled Australia and global tech: time for a reset.

• This article was amended on 22 May 2024 to remove an incorrect statement that Rebekah Brooks “is facing phone-hacking allegations from Prince Harry in London”. The high court ruled in July that Prince Harry could not bring his phone-hacking claim against the publisher as it was out of time.