The top team must drive a hard bargain with News Corporation

THE eight independent directors charged with looking after interests of BSkyB shareholders are an experienced stellar bunch.

But the group will come under scrutiny because they may be perceived as being too close to News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch who was chairman of Sky until 2007, and was replaced by his son James.

The gang of eight are led by Nicholas Ferguson, the senior independent non-executive director, who is also chairman of UK buyout group SVG Capital.

The other seven members are Allan Leighton, who has held top jobs at supermarket group Asda, the Royal Mail and BHS, Gail Rebuck, Andrew Higginson, ­former cabinet secretary Lord Wil­son, former Ford boss Jacques Nasser, David Evans and Daniel Rimer of ­venture capitalist firm Index Ventures.

SKY’S independent directors and News Corporation have both hired a number of banks to help set up the deal while EC regulatory officials scrutinise the proposal.

Sky have hired Morgan Stanley, and its UK head Simon Robey will lead the deal for the investment bank, along with its chairman of international mergers and acqui­sitions Scott Matlock.

Robey, 49, is a star at the bank and has led many of its biggest deals. Recently he acted for UK chocolate maker Cadbury in its £11.5bn sale to US rival Kraft in January.

Over the years, Robey has worked on the $70bn (£47bn) merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline­Beecham in 2000 as well as on Santander Central Hispano purchase of Abbey National in 2004. And he has also helped Marks & Spencer fight off the advances of the retail billionaire Sir Philip Green.

Robey was a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. He trained as a bass-baritone and almost became an opera singer. He is the chairman of the Royal Opera House and has held a season ticket at Arsenal for more than 20 years.

UBS will also act for Sky on this deal. News Corporation has retained Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Cazenove to act for it.