Elisabeth Murdoch set to quit television production company Shine Group

21st Century Fox now merging Shine with Big Brother-maker Endemol and Core Media, which produces American Idol

Elisabeth Murdoch is expected to quit the television production company she founded 13 years ago after it merges with two others.

Murdoch established Shine in 2001 and oversaw its expansion with hits such as MasterChef, and by buying other production companies including Princess Productions and Kudos, maker of Spooks and Broadchurch.

Shine Group was sold to 21st Century Fox, her father’s media conglomerate, in 2011 for £415m, giving Murdoch a personal profit of about £130m from the deal.

It was later revealed that Shine had debts of $135m – significantly higher than had been thought previously – and 21st Century Fox faced legal action from shareholders who did not believe the deal should have been made.

21st Century Fox is in the process of merging Shine with Big Brother maker Endemol and Core Media, which produces American Idol. Both companies are both controlled by Apollo Global Management, the private equity fund.

The Financial Times reported that Murdoch was expected to stand down as chairman of Shine when the merger was completed. Murdoch declined to comment.

The three-way deal is also expected to result in the departure of Alex Mahon, chief executive of Shine, and Just Spee, who runs Endemol, after a transition period.

It was announced on Monday that Sophie Turner Laing, who was BSkyB’s managing director of content until she left in May after 11 years, will become chief executive of the merged Endemol and Shine global television production business.

Although Murdoch had stepped back to a more hands-off role at Shine, she was still the highest placed UK-based woman in the most recent MediaGuardian 100.

A well-received MacTaggart lecture at the 2012 Edinburgh TV Festival was followed by a lengthy New Yorker profile in December that year, headlined Heiress: the rise of Elisabeth Murdoch. It was widely perceived as a further move to establish Elisabeth as a significant Murdoch dynasty figure independent from her father and siblings in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Murdoch later revealed that her one regret about the speech was not being more positive about her brother James, who had run News International but was tarnished by the hacking affair and retreated to a New York-based role. Her father reportedly did not speak to her for almost two months afterwards.

Selling Shine put Murdoch and her husband Matthew Freud, founder of the eponymous PR agency, into the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time last year with a combined wealth reported to be £255m, making the couple 12th among media types and 315th overall.

Freud and Rupert Murdoch have a famously poor relationship and he was reported to have banned his father-in-law from his 50th birthday party last year.

• This story was amended on 1 October 2014. An earlier version referred throughout to 21st Century Fox as News Corp.

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Contributor

Chris Johnston

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