Tony Ball cleans up in his last year at BSkyB with £13.2m pay package

Click to follow
The Independent Online

James Murdoch picked up £1.5m for his first eight months at the helm of BSkyB while his predecessor at the satellite broadcaster made £13.2m in his last year, it was revealed yesterday.

James Murdoch picked up £1.5m for his first eight months at the helm of BSkyB while his predecessor at the satellite broadcaster made £13.2m in his last year, it was revealed yesterday.

The company's annual report showed that Tony Ball, who left at the beginning of November last year, after working just four months of the financial year, was paid a salary of £717,676 for the period and a bonus of £12.3m. He also received benefits and a pension contribution worth £183,005.

The majority of Mr Ball's bonus came from a £10.7m payment "in return for agreeing with the company a two-year non-compete restriction" to stop him going to a rival such as ITV. He continues to be paid for work as a "consultant" to News Corporation, which owns a 35 per cent stake in Sky.

James Murdoch, who officially started work as the chief executive at the beginning of November 2003, was paid a salary of £456,284 for the eight months to the end of the financial year on 30 June 2004. He picked up a £850,000 bonus, plus £174,294 in other benefits and pension. Mr Murdoch is entitled to a bonus of up to £1.5m for the current financial year, if the company exceeds targets, the company said.

Sky also published details of the resolutions that will be put to shareholders at next month's annual general meeting, which will include a vote on remuneration policy at the company.

The broadcaster revealed it is pressing ahead with its highly controversial share buy-back programme. A number of shareholders have said they do not support the way the company is returning cash because Sky is seeking a waiver so that News Corp need not sell its shares into the buy-back.

This will lift News Corp's shareholding to more than 37 per cent, sparking accusations of a "creeping" takeover. Under Takeover Code rules, without such an exemption, any shareholder with more than 30 per cent that raises its shareholding would be forced into a bid for the entire company.

The company's circular made clear, in effect, that the buy-back will stand only if shareholders also pass the contentious waiver resolution.

The document said the Sky board "would not be prepared to authorise a repurchase of the company's ordinary shares in circumstances which would lead to a general offer for the ordinary shares being required to be made" by News Corp.

News Corp cannot vote its shareholding in favour of the waiver, which requires a majority to go through, leading some investors to suggest that it may be voted down. However, a Sky source said the company believed it had the support of leading independent shareholders for the plan.

Comments