James Murdoch, the son of billionaire News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch is facing a fightback from investors as he attempts to re-secure his place on the Sky board this month, having resigned in 2012 in the face of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, which was under his management as head of News International.
Mr Murdoch appears to be trying to get a seat back at the table of the board now that the company has absorbed both Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, both of which were majority owned by 21st Century Fox, a company that James Murdoch also has a role in. Clearly, this constitutes a conflict of interest for somebody wishing to join the board of directors at the company, but there are also unresolved questions regarding his leadership abilities, given the abhorrent actions that were undertaken whilst he managed News International.
It’s for that reason that the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, a long time critic of Mr Murdoch, recommend that its investors push back against his attempts to regain some control over the company and called for increased independent representation on the board amid fears its growing increasingly insular and unwilling to hear the views of the outside business community.
Investors have generally been negative about the takeover of both Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, regarding it as a poor bit of business that smacks of desperation and points to a company who may begin to ignore the UK market in favour of the less competitive European markets. It comes at a bad time for Sky in general, when calls to its contact number line at 0844 324 0301 are up and customers are looking towards other TV providers like BT and Virgin Media in favour of the satellite TV giant, who don’t yet have a ‘quad play’ package to compete with Virgin Media.
Whether Mr Murdoch is invited back on to the board is still as yet undecided, but it’s clear that his preference would be to rejoin the company and lead it into a few era of profitability and cross-Europe cooperation. Whether that’s going to be possible or not is entirely up to investors, but given that his father still has a great deal of power of the company, both directly and indirectly, there’s a good chance that James already has his claws into the company somehow. Either way, we’ll keep you updated on the latest regarding his board position.
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