Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Sky suffers shareholder revolt over directors' pay and James Murdoch re-election

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch at Sky’s London HQ Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch at Sky’s London HQ
Edmund Wade | 13 October, 2017, 00:36

Fox, which now owns 39.1% of Sky, is trying to buy full control of the business in a deal that would value it at £18.5bn.

That included votes cast on behalf of 21st Century Fox, Sky's largest shareholder, which is capped at 37.19% - and means that Mr Murdoch's appointment was also backed by a majority of independent shareholders.

Today, Sky noted that if 21st Century Fox's offer is not approved by the CMA by the end of the year, a special dividend of 10p per Sky share will be paid to shareholders in February 2018.

The motion to reappoint Mr Murdoch, a former chief executive of Sky, was passed with 78% of votes.

Almost 22% of all shareholders, and more than 48% of independent ones, opposed Murdoch being allowed to continue in the post.

In response to the question about the Fox News scandal, Darroch said the "whole board are incredibly supportive and behind Sky" and that it wanted to make a "broader contribution" to society.

The broadcaster said in a statement: "The board notes the significant vote against resolution 3, the directors' remuneration report, and resolution 12, the re-election of James Murdoch, and will continue to engage with shareholders to understand their views as part of its ongoing programme of engagement".

A United Kingdom investigation into a planned takeover of TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox will assess the tycoon's influence on the country's political landscape, regulators said Tuesday.

They claimed that, because Fox is now trying to buy full control of Sky, he could not be a completely independent chairman of the latter.

Overall, Britain's Competitions and Markets Authority will assess the impact of the Murdoch family's proposed deal on both broadcasting standards and media plurality, the CMA said in a statement.

21st Century Fox and News Corp, parent company of Dow Jones, share common ownership.

Sky is also set to update the market with results for the three months to 30 September on Thursday. The pay package handed to Sky's chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, quadrupled to more than £16m in the year to the end of June, despite a hefty fall in annual profits at the broadcaster's United Kingdom and Ireland business.

"We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we've made come through", said group chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

The group said Game Of Thrones was its "most-watched series ever", while it also hailed home-grown series Riviera after it notched up 20 million downloads.

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