BSkyB chief quits to run Internet venture

RUPERT MURDOCH'S satellite broadcasting company BSkyB stunned the market yesterday by announcing that Mark Booth is quitting as chief executive to head up a new interactive television and Internet venture funded by News Corporation.

The new company, e-partners, will receive $300m of equity funding from Mr Murdoch's News Corp and Mr Booth will have a significant stake in the venture. Mr Booth was offered the newly-created post to prevent him from leaving the Murdoch empire to take up a top job with Microsoft. His successor, who will be an outside appointment, is due to be announced in the next few weeks.

E-partners will have offices in London and Silicon Valley and will be used as the vehicle for News Corp to take strategic minority stakes in Internet, interactive television and wireless communication ventures.

BSkyB executives denied that the posting was a sideways move or that Mr Murdoch was penalising Mr Booth for the blocking of BSkyB's takeover bid for Manchester United.

Announcing Mr Booth's departure, Mr Murdoch paid him fulsome tribute praising the "outstanding job" he had done at BSkyB since taking up the position 18 months ago. Mr Booth led the launch of BSkyB's digital satellite service, which has already picked up 350,000 subscribers and is on course for one million by this October.

Analysts were relieved that Mr Booth is not being succeeded by Mr Murdoch's daughter, Elizabeth, who is managing director of BSkyB's programming arm, Sky Networks.

"I thought for one moment they were going to put the boss's daughter in charge, which would not have been very well received," said one analyst.

The new company will effectively act as a venture capital fund, providing finance for new media companies. It may also help provide content for BSkyB and BIB, the interactive television service that BSkyB is launching later this year with BT, HSBC Holdings and Matsushita.

News Corp said that e-partners would be separate from its main Internet operating division, News America Digital Publishing. Although Mr Murdoch has been critical of the Internet craze, saying web-based stocks are overvalued and that Internet businesses will destroy more jobs than they create, News Corp has been steadily building a presence in the market.

News Corp has a big equity stake in TV Guide Inc., the leading interactive television channel and magazine, and two prominent websites, and It is also active in the market for broadband services through partnerships with the At Home and Roadrunner cable modem services.

Analysts questioned the effect Mr Booth's move would have on Mr Murdoch's son, James, who looks after the empire's Internet-related businesses. Mr Murdoch said that, in e-partners, News Corp had created a unique entrepreneurial investment structure best able to exploit the opportunities in new media.

Mr Booth's successor will be chosen by a four-man committee made up of Mr Murdoch, the BSkyB chairman, Jerome Seydoux, and two of its non-executive directors Sir Dennis Stevenson and Philip Bowman.

A spokesman said: "This is a plum job and the market is limited so the company has one or two candidates in mind."

Possible successors include David Elstein, the head of Channel Five, who was a former BSkyB executive, and David Chance, who quit BSkyB when its previous chief executive Sam Chisholm left the company.

Mathew Horsman, media analyst with Investec Henderson Crosthwaite, contrasted Mr Booth's departure with that of Mr Chisholm, which had unsettled the BSkyB share price. "It gives him a slew of the equity in a new venture and enables Murdoch to keep Booth working for him, not against him," he said.

Life and Style
food + drink
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments