Almost 19% of shareholder votes were cast against BSkyB Executive Chairman James Murdoch at the satellite broadcaster’s annual general meeting today.
According to a company filing, Murdoch, the son of News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, gained 81.24% of the vote with 18.76% against, which is higher than some analysts had expected. At last year’s meeting he received 98.2% shareholder support. There were 105.3m abstentions.
The BBC said several major shareholders voted against James Murdoch, who has been rocked by the phone hacking scandal at media giant News Corp. where he is a director, as they would like a fully independent chairman. News Corp. owns 39% of BSkyB.
Funds firm Standard Life Investments, which has 6m BSkyB shares, was one who voted against James Murdoch. Its head of governance and stewardship, Guy Jubb, said: “We should like to see a new and independent chairman appointed.“Our misgivings had been heightened by the revelations of stewardship short-comings at the News of the World, a title for which Mr Murdoch bore a measure of responsibility.” The tabloid was closed in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Other major investors believed to have voted against include Kames Capital, which owns 1.7%, and Legal & General (2.9%). Responsible Investor has reported that major US pension funds such as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) had cast their votes against James Murdoch.
Just over 16% of votes were against the BSkyB remuneration report, with 131.8m abstentions.
At the meeting, the BSkyB board faced questions from MP Tom Watson, a prominent member of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, over their knowledge of the hacking scandal.
According to the BBC, BSkyB’s Deputy Chairman, Nicholas Ferguson, told the meetings that James Murdoch was doing a good job. He was quoted saying: “He runs an excellent board. He has put in place strong governance procedures.”