Sky deal: James Murdoch faces shareholders at annual meeting

Peter Castro
October 13, 2017

Martin Gilbert, the deputy chair, said the board had looked at the Fox takeover in the best interests of shareholders and had impartial discussions that did not include Murdoch or other Sky directors with connections to Fox.

James Murdoch is poised to defend his position as Sky's chairman at its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.

Nearly 22 percent of all shareholders opposed Mr Murdoch and 48.5 percent of independent shareholders.

Last year, Sky's board tapped Murdoch to become its chairman.

Meanwhile, the takeover of Sky is being held up by a United Kingdom investigation into the proposed deal worth £11.7 billion.

In a stock exchange announcement detailing the AGM vote, Sky said: "The board is pleased that the majority of resolutions have been passed with a high level of support from shareholders". In late 2014, after BSkyB acquired Fox's Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, the bigger company changed its name to Sky.

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White has said she is "absolutely confident" that the broadcasting regulator was right in ruling that the planned purchase of Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21 Century Fox would not undermine its broadcasting standards.

Earlier this year, the deal was referred by Karen Bradley, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the grounds of concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards.

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"Are you confident that the CMA won't unearth new Fox scandals which derail the bid?", Alaphia Zoyab from activist group Avaaz asked.

Like-for-like revenues during the three months to the end of September were £3.3bn, up 5.5% on the same period a year ago, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) rose by 11% to £582m.

According to the statement it released today, European production business is a key priority for growth and the company will be investing 25% more in Sky Originals programming across its territories this year.

"We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth", said chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

He pointed out that in addition to Sky's existing markets - the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy - the company had just launched consumer streaming services in Spain and Switzerland.

The group said Game Of Thrones was its "most-watched series ever", while it also hailed home-grown series Riviera after it notched up 20 million downloads.

Shares of Sky, which are valued at 1075p under 21st Century Fox's takeover bid, closed 13p higher at 926.5p.

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