David Prosser: A one off opportunity at News Corp and Sky


Outlook Pirc, the corporate governance group, can be forgiven for the fact that much of the long note it published yesterday on News Corp and BSkyB might have been condensed into just four words: "We told you so". For Pirc did indeed tell us so – it has been warning about governance issues at both companies for several years, frequently urging investors to make more of a fuss about the influence of the Murdoch family.

Looking forward, Pirc now makes two worthwhile contributions to this debate. First, as it points out, there were shareholders who complained when James Murdoch became chairman of BSkyB in 2008, despite concerns about his independence. All credit to institutions such as Aviva, Legal & General and the Co-op. Pension funds and other investors ought now to be asking why their investment managers simply waved through the appointment.

Second, Pirc adds, for those investors that share its concern that "there is something rotten within News Corp" there will never be a better opportunity to push for governance reforms. And their heads should not be turned by the $5bn share buyback announced by the group yesterday.

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