BSkyB investors advised to axe James Murdoch

| October 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

By
Jon Rees

09:38 EST, 28 October 2012


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09:39 EST, 28 October 2012

Battle: James Murdoch faces a fight to stay on the BSkyB board.

Battle: James Murdoch faces a fight to stay on the BSkyB board.

James Murdoch faces a fight to retain his place on the board of pay-TV firm BSkyB this week, with shareholders being advised to vote him off.

Murdoch and the other BSkyB directors will face the vote at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Shareholder advisory group Pirc, which guides the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, whose members have assets of more than £115 billion, has urged investors to vote against Murdoch’s re-election and that of other directors linked News Corporation, BSkyB’s key shareholder.

However, News Corporation holds a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, which means that a vote against the directors’ re-election is likely to fail, though a vote that  garners more than half of the votes of independent shareholders against them will be seen as symbolically powerful.

Murdoch is not regarded as independent by Pirc, nor are other directors linked to News Corp, including Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News Corp’s News International, which publishes The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times,

Pirc also highlights media regulator Ofcom’s finding in its investigation of BSkyB to see if it was ‘fit and proper’, when it said there were questions over ‘Murdoch’s competence…and his attitude towards the possibility of wrong-doing’ in his companies.

In the three months to the end of September, BSkyB is expected to have added just 20,000 net new subscribers to its pay-TV service, about the same as the same period last year. However, it is expected to have added a further 525,000 customers for its phone and broadband services, though this is down from 631,000 in the three months to the end of June.

Pirc is also advising shareholders to vote against BSkyB’s remuneration report, noting that though chief executive Jeremy Darroch did not see his basic pay increase in the year to the end of June, he was given an award of  shares worth 819 per cent of his base salary. His total pay was more than £7 million.

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