Sky chief James Murdoch under pressure from investors

The election of James Murdoch as chair of Sky was met with shareholder dissent last year and investor advisory groups said little has been done to address concerns. Picture: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
The election of James Murdoch as chair of Sky was met with shareholder dissent last year and investor advisory groups said little has been done to address concerns. Picture: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
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Sky chairman James Murdoch is set to face shareholders on Thursday amid investor unrest over his independence as the broadcaster remains the subject of a takeover attempt by 21st Century Fox.

Shareholder advisory groups – including Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), Glass Lewis and Pirc – have called on investors to vote against his re-election at Sky’s annual general meeting and also to rebel against “excessive” pay plans for top bosses.

ISS said: “Having a representative of a major shareholder act as chairman of the board raises corporate governance concerns and appears to represent an assertion of control by 21st Century Fox over the Sky board.”

Murdoch is chief executive of Fox, which is attempting to seize control of the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own. His election as chair of Sky was met with shareholder dissent last year and investor advisory groups said little has been done to address concerns.

ISS added “there is no material information pertaining to steps taken by the board to address the vote result” after concerns were raised in 2016.

It looks set to be an eventful AGM as the £11.7 billion takeover bid also returns to the political limelight, with MPs questioning Karen Bradley – Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport – at a Commons committee hearing on Wednesday.

The grilling comes after she referred the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full-blown investigation centred on broadcasting standards. Pay plans at Sky are likewise under the microscope.