Standard Life adds to pressure on Sky to demand more from Murdoch's Fox

 
William Turvill
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The 21st Century Fox deal in principle values Sky at around £18.5bn (Source: Getty)

Sky is coming under increasing pressure to push for a higher takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

The two companies said at the end of last week that they had reached a deal in principle at £10.75 per share for Fox to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky it does not currently own.

Thomas Moore, investment director at Standard Life Investments, which has a 0.26 per cent stake in Sky, this morning became the latest investor to call for a higher starting bid from Fox.

Read more: Sky calms shareholders over Fox bid as board independence questioned

Moore also raised concerns about the fact James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, is both chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky.

Speaking to the BBC, he called on deputy Sky chairman Martin Gilbert, the chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, to “put forward a strong case that this bid undervalues the company”.

“Shareholders – our clients ultimately – are reliant on this independent board to come up with a solution which will represent proper value,” Moore told the BBC.

“There are concerns, given the composition of the board, that that cannot be the case. We would hope this is a starting bid and on reflection they will appreciate that a higher bid is more appropriate.”

Similar concerns have been expressed by investors at Royal London Asset Management and Jupiter Asset Management.

Read more: Political opposition to Murdoch takeover of Sky mounts

Royal London’s chief investment officer Piers Hillier said: “It would have been preferable to have an independent chairman.

“The creation of an independent committee of the board (excluding James Murdoch) to consider the bid addresses some of the conflicts of interest, however it doesn’t go far enough.”

And Jupiter fund manager Alastair Gunn has been quoted as saying the £10.75 “ought to be the start of the process, not the conclusion”.

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