Departure of top two knocks BSkyB shares

Shares in BSkyB fell sharply yesterday after the announcement that Sam Chisholm, chief executive, and David Chance, deputy managing director, were to leave the company at the end of the year. The news that Mr Chisholm, who is 57, was to step down on the advice of his doctor knocked 22p off BSkyB's share price, dragging it down to 566.5p.

City analysts were nervous about Mr Chisholm's replacement, Mark Booth, who is currently chief operating officer of JSkyB, Rupert Murdoch's Japanese satellite operation. Mr Booth, who is 40, has been in his current position for less than six months. One analyst said: "Mark Booth has nowhere near the skills or reputation of a Sam Chisholm."

Another worried that Booth would be beholden to Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, rather than the BSkyB shareholders. The analyst added: "This is a clear but subtle indication that Murdoch is seizing back managerial control of BSkyB. Sam Chisholm is responsible for the BSkyB share price. It is not immediately evident how Murdoch's track record in ruthlessly expanding his TV interests returns value to the shareholders in the medium term."

The changes leave the way clear for Elisabeth Murdoch, Mr Murdoch's 28- year-old daughter, to rise up the ranks of the satellite television operator. Speculation is mounting that she will take Mr Chance's role in January next year.

The timing of the announcement puzzled many in the industry, coming as it did only weeks before the Independent Television Commission's decision on the digital terrestrial television licences. BSkyB, in conjunction with Carlton Communications and Granada Group, has bid for the chance to control digital terrestrial television.

Mathew Horsman, media analyst at Henderson Crosthwaite, said: "This is the end of an era in British broadcasting. It's a bit of a double whammy for Sky to lose the chief executive and his deputy on the eve of the digital revolution." Another analyst, who declined to be named, commented: "This will have a dramatic impact. Sam Chisholm has been a clear driving force. Sky is going through a demanding period in the run-up and transition from analogue to digital. The company needs someone who has that absolute conviction."

But Derek Terrington, media analyst at Teather & Greenwood, said departures were fairly common in Murdoch's empire. He added: "Any multiple departure has to be a bit devastating but departures at News Corp are not unusual." Mr Terrington was less bothered than most about Mr Booth's appointment, saying he had confidence in Mr Murdoch's decisions on personnel.

Mr Chance, who joined BSkyB eight years ago, said that even though he has often been viewed as Mr Chisholm's heir apparent, he declined to be considered for the role. He added that Mr Chisholm will remain a director of the company and Mr Chance is to continue as a consultant.

Mr Chance emphasised that he would be helping BSkyB switch from analogue to digital, and denied that the news would unduly destabilise the company. He said: "Sky's future is tremendously exciting with the launch of the digital initiative." Meanwhile, he paid tribute to the chief executive's work at the company. "Sam has been instrumental in Sky's success story. He inherited a company losing pounds 14m a week at the time of the merger of Sky and BSB. It now has operating profit in excess of pounds 300m," he said.

It has been an open secret in the industry for some while that Mr Chisholm suffers from asthma, and would be forced to take a back-seat role sooner or later.

Sources say that Mr Murdoch came to London last week, and finalised the terms of Mr Chisholm's departure. However, Mr Chisholm is thought to have started discussions to negotiate his way out of his contract some months ago.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor