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04/11/2003

James Murdoch appointed BSkyB CEO

The Board of BSkyB have announced the controversial appointment of James Murdoch, son of Chairman Rupert Murdoch, as Chief Executive Officer.
He will replace outgoing Chief Executive Tony Ball, effective November 4 2003.
James Murdoch was appointed following the unanimous recommendation of a four-member Nomination Committee of non-executive Board members, supported by the executive search firm Spencer Stuart.
The directors affiliated to News Corporation voluntarily decided not to exercise their votes in the Board resolution to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer, and the independent non-executive directors unanimously endorsed the recommendation of the Nomination Committee.
James Murdoch will be resigning from the Boards of both News Corporation Ltd and NDS Group plc immediately.
The Board has also invited Lord Jacob Rothschild to join the Board and to fill the new role of non-executive Deputy Chairman, and he has accepted. He will take up the post on November 17 2003.
Also announced today was the appointment of Allan Leighton as Chairman of the Audit Committee. He will take up this position upon the retirement from the Board of the Committee's current Chairman, Philip Bowman, after the company's AGM on November 14.
Following Philip Bowman's retirement, the Board has instigated a search for a new independent non-executive director.
The Nomination Committee said: "After a rigorous search and nomination process, we are pleased, having considered a wide group of excellent candidates, to have found in James Murdoch a candidate in whom we are unanimously confident can lead Sky forward to greater success."
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of BSkyB, said: "The Board and I are pleased that the Nomination Committee has completed its task and it is unanimous in its conviction that James is the right man for this job. He follows a series of successful Chief Executives - Sam Chisholm, Mark Booth and Tony Ball. I feel confident that James will carry on their work and continue the company's success. It is a mark of BSkyB's stature that the Board has been able to attract a man of Lord Rothschild's calibre and we are delighted that he has accepted the post of Deputy Chairman. I would also like to thank Allan Leighton for taking on his new role - adding further to his significant contribution to the company since joining the Board in 1999."
James Murdoch said: "Sky is one of a very small group of Britain's great new industrial companies. It is a world leader in multichannel television and an innovative business, which has, since its inception, been at the forefront in technological and creative advance. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to play a part in the company's future. I particularly look forward to working with the people at Sky who have played such a key role in its success, and to working for all the shareholders to deliver even greater value."
BSkyB shareholders, some of whom reportedly objected to the possibility of James Murdoch's appointment, are due to meet at the company's AGM to be held on November 14. One shareholder group, The National Association of Pension Funds, has already claimed that a former Conservative cabinet minister and listed as an independent non-executive member, Lord St John of Fawsley, cannot be considered such as he has sat on the board for 12 years.
The NAPF further condemned BSkyB's remuneration report for its "lack of clarity" and for its failure to reveal the details of the entitlement package for the departing Chief Executive Tony Ball.
(GB/SP)
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