Belfast Telegraph

Murdoch leaves BSkyB

James quits as chairman over phone hacking scandal links

By Jamie Grierson

James Murdoch bowed to pressure and resigned as BSkyB chairman yesterday as he admitted his links to the News International phone-hacking scandal threatened to damage the satellite broadcaster's reputation.

Mr Murdoch, who relinquished his role as NI executive chairman in February, said he did not want his position to become a "lightning rod" for BSkyB as he stepped down with immediate effect following months of pressure to leave the FTSE 100 company.

The deputy chief operating officer at News Corporation, BSkyB's controlling shareholder with a 39% stake, will stay on the board as a non-executive director and will be replaced by deputy chairman Nick Ferguson.

Shareholder lobby group Pensions -amp; Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) called for Mr Murdoch to leave the BSkyB board entirely, while father Rupert, parent company News Corp chief executive, released a brief statement thanking him for his "successful leadership".

Mr Murdoch leaves the position just weeks before a Parliamentary report is published into reporting practices at the News of the World and an expected appearance alongside his father at the Leveson Inquiry.

His departure comes despite receiving backing from BSkyB shareholders, who reappointed him at the company's annual general meeting last November.

In a letter outlining his resignation, Mr Murdoch, who was appointed BSkyB chairman in December 2007, said: "As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company.

"I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB.

Mr Murdoch received the support of 75.4% of BSkyB shareholders, with 17.4% opposed and 7.2% withheld, at last year's AGM.

BSkyB stood by its chairman and said there had been "no effect on sales, customers or suppliers" after the phone hacking claims.

Mr Ferguson heaped praise on his predecessor following the announcement.

"With his vision, drive and strategic insight, the company has performed exceptionally," he said. "The board's support for James and belief in his integrity remain strong."

Rupert Murdoch said in a statement with News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey that it was "grateful" for Mr Murdoch's "successful leadership" at the broadcaster.

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