Shareholder revolt over Murdoch’s re-election to Sky board
TAKEOVER target Sky has suffered a shareholder revolt over pay and the re-election of chairman James Murdoch at the company’s annual meeting.
Nearly half of independent shareholders voted to oppose Mr Murdoch’s reappointment amid concerns over his role as chief executive of 21st Century Fox, which is attempting to seize control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own in an £11.7bn deal.
Some investors have expressed doubt that his dual roles allow him to represent the interests of independent investors, 48.4% of which opposed his re-election.
However, this was an improvement on last year, when more than 50% opposed Mr Murdoch’s reappointment.
When including Fox’s 39% holding in Sky, 78% of shareholders backed his reappointment.
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.”
On pay, 63.7% of independent investors voted against the company’s remuneration report.
It follows a bumper payout for chief executive Jeremy Darroch, whose total annual pay packet more than trebled to £16.3m last year, despite annual profits being hit by the cost of broadcasting live Premier League football.
But the remuneration report was passed with 71% of the vote when including Fox’s holding.
The takeover tilt by Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, has been in the spotlight this week as Ofcom boss Sharon White and Culture Secretary Karen Bradley appeared before MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Ms Bradley referred the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority last month, with the competition watchdog set to report back with its final recommendations next March.
The AGM followed a robust trading update from Sky, which said the popularity of Game Of Thrones helped Sky post surging revenues and customer numbers.
Sky said it added 160,000 new customers in its first quarter, which marks a 51% rise on a year earlier.