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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003