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News Corp. general counsel Lon Jacobs to leave media giant [Updated]

June 8, 2011 |  7:01 am

Lawrence "Lon" Jacobs, the general counsel of media giant News Corp. and a close confidant to Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, is leaving the company.

Jacobs, 56, has been with News Corp. for 15 years and has served as its general counsel since 2004. He also has played a key role in several major media deals, including the company's purchase of the Wall Street Journal.

"I will always be grateful to Lon not only for his wise counsel, but for his key role in helping build News Corporation into one of the world's largest and most successful diversified media companies," Murdoch said in statement.

The departure of Jacobs comes at a crucial time for the company as it tries to clean up a legal mess in Britain having to do with an investigation into phone hacking of celebrities and politicians by News Corp.-owned newspapers.

One black mark on Jacobs tenure was News Corp.'s settling a lawsuit filed against it by Valassis Communications, a coupon company that charged that the media giant was engaged in anti-competitve practices. News Corp. paid $500 million to settle the lawsuit.

No successor was named, but one name that will likely surface as a candidate to replace Jacobs is Joel Klein, the former head of education for New York City who joined News Corp. late last year as part of the company's push into the education business. Klein is also a lawyer who once served as antitrust chief at the Justice Department. He also is a former chief executive officer of the media company Bertelsmann Inc.

However, a News Corp. spokesman said Klein was not in the running to replace Jacobs.

-- Joe Flint

This post was updated at 7:30 a.m. June 8 to reflect the announcement of Jacob's departure, include a statement from Rupert Murdoch and provide additional background.

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