Share­holder re­volt over Mur­doch’s re-elec­tion to Sky board

Western Mail - - BUSINESS IN WALES -

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.

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