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CEO Daily Brief – Oct. 22, 2010

Murdoch Son Also Rises as Shareholders Study CEO Succession James Rupert Murdoch, chairman of British Sky Broadcasting and son of …

Murdoch Son Also Rises as Shareholders Study CEO Succession

James Rupert Murdoch, chairman of British Sky Broadcasting and son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, is the leading contender to succeed his father at the helm of News Corp.

The 37-year-old not only bears his father’s name, he’s worked at the company for 14 years and run many pieces of the business, including a group that now accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s $32.8 billion in revenue.

No decision has been made on the next CEO and the timing is unpredictable because it’s tied to how long 79-year-old Rupert can keep running the company, two people familiar with the situation said. Alternative candidates, such as Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, may prove more palatable to the board if a decision must be made in the near future, they said. Meanwhile, James must show he’s capable of the top job and more than just a Murdoch.

For more about the younger Murdoch from Bloomberg News, please click here.

Aetna CEO to Retire, New CEO Has Relationships on State Level

Given the current direction of healthcare reform, Aetna has chosen a new CEO. Aetna Inc.’s CEO Ronald Williams, who led the company through the passage of the federal health overhaul and achieved a turnaround of the once-ailing health insurer, is stepping down. The company tapped President Mark Bertolini to succeed him.

The transition is happening as the company’s focus shifts from the passage of the overhaul to shaping a future amid new regulatory realities. Williams played a critical role pushing for the industry’s positions in Washington. Bertolini has led the company’s efforts among state regulators and governors, where much of the overhaul’s implementation is now taking place, the company said.

The relationships Bertolini has developed with regulators and governors will be key over the next few years. To read more from The Wall Street Journal about how Bertolini may lead the company, please click here.

Moving Women to the Top Linked to Better Financial Performance

Most executives believe gender diversity in leadership is linked to better financial performance, but companies take few actions to support women in the workforce. Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey believe there is a direct connection between a company’s gender diversity and its financial success. Indeed, the share saying so has risen in the past year, even in the face of continued economic turmoil.

Yet companies have not so far successfully bridged the gap between men and women in the top levels of management. Diversity isn’t a high priority at most companies, and that there’s great variability in the number of gender-diversity policies companies have pursued. At companies where gender diversity is higher on the strategic agenda and more related policies are implemented, executives say that company leadership is also the most diverse.

The degree of support from CEOs and other top managers is another important factor influencing a company’s performance on diversity, respondents say, so it is notable that few companies’ top management teams currently monitor relevant programs.For more details on the survey as reported by Forbes, please click here.

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