The Business On... Nicholas Ferguson, SID, BSkyB

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The Independent Online

Sorry, SID?

Senior independent director. As deputy chairman, it was MrFerguson's job yesterday to set out the position of Sky's board on the continuing chairmanship of James Murdoch. The position is, as you know, that the board is 100 per cent behind Mr Murdoch, despite vocal complaints from certain shareholders.

The troublemakers?

Quite, though Mr Ferguson would never talk in those terms – he's oozing in charm and diplomacy, with both sides of the debate over Mr Murdoch full of praise for the way in which the deputy chairman has handled the row.

It sounds as if a promotion is overdue?

He doesn't see it that way. Mr Ferguson's support for Mr Murdoch is genuine. He may have been deputy chairman for four years now, having first joined the board in 2003, but he's not angling for a change of role.

Too nice to be ruthless?

Don't make that mistake. Mr Ferguson made his name as chief executive of SVG, the private equity investor, which has often been demanding in its treatment of the companies in which it has invested. "We can be quick, quicker than public company boards, to remove executives," he once said.

Is he still at SVG?

He chairs the group, while also holding the same office at the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Institute of Philanthropy.

He's certainly been generous to Mr Murdoch.

He has to balance the interests of all Sky's shareholders, you know, including News Corporation, which has 39 per cent.

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