James Murdoch is once again facing opposition from a group of institutional investors calling for shareholders to vote against his re-election to the board of Sky. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum released a statement saying Murdoch’s “ability to respond appropriately to a governance crisis at Sky is in doubt given the scandalous events of News Group Newspapers and the subsequent views of Ofcom.”
Murdoch resigned as chief executive of News International in 2012 following the hacking scandal that exposed News of the World reporters as illegally tapping into the mobile phones of public figures and celebrities.
The Financial Times also reported that the group criticized Murdoch’s failure to clarify potential conflicts of interest given his prominent role at Fox leading the talks that led to the sale of its stakes in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to Sky. That deal was finally concluded earlier this month in a deal valued at $10.8 billion, creating in Sky the biggest pay TV platform in Europe.
The Forum manages $150 billion in assets and roughly 2% of Sky stock. They have called for shareholders to vote against Murdoch’s re-election at the AGM on November 21. They are also seeking increased independent representation on the Sky board in general.
James Murdoch came under heavy criticism for his leadership, or perceived lack thereof, during the hacking crisis.
Sky countered the claims today with a statement saying Murdoch “has always acted with integrity and competence in his time at Sky.”
Despite the hacking blackmark, James Murdoch is generally credited with boosting Sky’s revenues during his tenure at the company and leading its successful entry into the broadband market and multiplay offerings.
This is not the first time he has faced shareholder resistance over his role at Sky.