Big investors lose confidence in James Murdoch as BSkyB chief

 

James Murdoch, the chairman of BSkyB, is set to receive a bloody nose at the broadcaster's annual meeting tomorrow, with a number of big investors planning to vote against his re-election over his handling of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Legal & General, Kames Capital and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) are poised to oppose Mr Murdoch's re-election.

But the support of other big shareholders and the backing of News Corporation, which owns 39.1 per cent of BSkyB, mean he is likely to survive the vote by a comfortable margin.

However, a vote of more than 20 per cent, including abstentions, against his re-election will ratchet up the pressure on Mr Murdoch – who is also the deputy chief operating officer at News Corp and chairman of News International Newspapers.

Capital Research Global, which owns 5.2 per cent of BSkyB, is thought to support him and is likely to be joined by those holding smaller stakes, such as the hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey and the fund manager Taube Hodson Stones, in voting in his favour.

The son of Rupert Murdoch is understood to be determined to stay on as chairman of BSkyB. But he appears to have now lost the support of several investors – who want an independent chairman – in the wake of the furore over the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World and derailed News Corp's £7.8bn bid for BSkyB this summer.

Legal & General, which owns 2.9 per cent of BSkyB, is set to vote against Mr Murdoch. Another top ten shareholder, Kames Capital, which has a 1.7 per cent stake in the broadcaster, is also ready to pile on the pressure on the chairman by opposing his re-election.

Meanwhile, a YouGov survey of 1,027 BSkyB customers will today reveal that more than two-thirds do not think that Mr Murdoch should continue as its chairman, and three quarters have "little or no trust" in the Murdoch family's ability to own and operate media organisations in the UK.

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