Sky Deutschland has appointed Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch as the new chairman of its supervisory board, replacing James Murdoch who stepped down from the role at the firm’s AGM yesterday.
Murdoch, who retains a seat on the Sky Deutschland board, gave up the post amid mounting pressure about his position on the board of Sky in the UK.
Ahead of Sky’s AGM, scheduled for tomorrow, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) published an open letter recommending an “oppose vote” on the reelection of James Murdoch to the Sky board, citing conflicts of interest and lack of suitability for the role.
“Mr Murdoch’s ability to respond appropriately to a governance crisis at Sky is in doubt given the scandalous events at News Group Newspapers and the subsequent views of Ofcom,” said the LAPFF, citing the phone hacking scandal and the UK broadcast regulator’s 2012 ruling that “a company director is required to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence in the exercise of his functions.”
The LAPFF also said that it also sought a genuine “arm’s length’ relationship between Sky and Twenty First Century Fox” through more independent representation on the board. Murdoch is an executive director at Twenty First Century Fox, which also has 39.14% holding in Sky.
“Rupert Murdoch is the controlling shareholder in Sky, holding 39.14% of the issued share capital through 21st Century Fox UK Nominees Limited. One-third of the board has ties to Twenty-First Century Fox. This level of influence is of particular concern given that the Senior Independent director will step down at the AGM and no replacement has yet been announced,” said LAPFF.
At its AGM, Sky Deutschland appointed Sky’s chief financial officer Andrew Griffith as a second new member to the board, alongside Darroch.
21st Century Fox president Chase Carey and Fox International Channels Europe and Africa president Jan Koeppen did not stand for re-election and are no longer part of the nine-strong board.
The changes come a week after Sky completed its takeover of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, with the new combined company to be known simply as Sky.