JAMES Murdoch will be comfortably re-elected as a director of BSkyB at tomorrow’s annual general meeting, says one of the broadcaster’s biggest investors, despite shareholder calls for him to resign in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Hedge fund boss Crispin Odey, who holds a 2.7 per cent stake in the satellite business, says Murdoch “looks secure” in the position. “He will feel the influence [of the controversy] Odey told City A.M. “But I expect him to remain on the board.”
The critical vote at tomorrow’s annual general meeting of BSkyB follows Murdoch’s resignation from the boards of News Group Newspapers and Times Newspapers.
A number of shareholders, including Kames Capital, Legal & General and Franklin Templeton, are reportedly preparing to vote against Murdoch after the claims of phone hacking at the News of the World emerged, which led to the paper’s closure.
But investors Odey, Capital Research Global Investors and Taube Hodson Stonex, which between them own 9.4 per cent of BSkyB, are understood to be planning to vote in favour of Murdoch.
“I am voting for James as a thank you for taking the company where it is,” Odey told City A.M. “He has done a good job so far and he tells me he is very committed to being chairman and to continuing to help out.”
News Corp, which owns 39 per cent of BSkyB but has 37 per cent of the votes, has also stated it will back Murdoch to remain as chairman, a role that is contingent upon Murdoch being re-elected as a director. The remaining shareholders’ votes are weighted proportionately to their stake in the company.
Twelve of the 14 BSkyB directors are standing for re-election at the 11am meeting at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster tomorrow. It has already been announced that Allan Leighton and David Evans will step down as directors immediately after the AGM, to be replaced by Martin Gilbert and Matthieu Pigasse.
Earlier this month, BSkyB deputy chairman Nick Ferguson wrote to shareholders to reason why James Murdoch should stay as chairman.