Chance expected to stay on at Sky

David Chance, second in command at BSkyB, is likely to extend his consultancy contract with the satellite broadcaster beyond next summer, according to senior sources at the company.

The deputy managing director announced he was to step down at the same time as Sam Chisholm, chief executive and managing director, who resigned due to ill-health.

Mr Chance said he would work as a consultant until next summer, but following a concerted campaign by Sky to make him change his mind and stay on, he is considering remaining for longer.

The impending departure of the top duo, combined with Sky's enforced withdrawal from British digital broadcasting, knocked more than pounds 2bn off Sky's market value as the shares declined from a peak of over 600p to just above 400p.

As a result, Sky had come under pressure to win Mr Chance back. In particular, some institutional shareholders had accused Rupert Murdoch, who has a 40 per cent stake in Sky through News Corporation, of nepotism by promoting his daughter Elisabeth to general manager, broadcasting.

City analysts said yesterday that if Mr Chance decided to extend his contract with Sky, he would help to assuage investors' concerns about the strength of the management team.

One analyst said: "It's a demonstration of faith in the future of the company. There was always a fear that the two biggest people were getting out before the launch of digital."

Mark Booth, head of JSkyB, Mr Murdoch's Japanese satellite operation, has been appointed to lead the company through the difficult birth of digital satellite television, which will see the launch of 200 channels next spring.

Another analyst said: "It would be encouraging to have as strong a management team as possible in a formative period for Sky."

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