BSkyB shareholders add to Murdoch pressure by declaring no vote for Chair re-election at Nov 29 AGM

UK parliamentary hearing takes place today.

Some of the biggest institutional investors in BSkyB, the London-listed satellite TV company, are adding to red-hot pressure on Chairman, James Murdoch, by indicating that they will vote against his reappointment at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) at the end of this month. Murdoch today faces a UK parliamentary hearing on the continuing News Corp phone hacking scandal. He has been recalled to speak to the House of Commons media select committee to answer accusations that he misled them in an earlier interview in July. Sources close to Aviva Investors, one of the UK’s biggest fund managers, said it would maintain a no vote against Murdoch’s reappointment at the November 29 BSkyB AGM as it did in 2010. At BSkyB’s 2010 AGM, other fund managers including Co-operative Asset Management also voted against James Murdoch’s re-election as a director. Sources close to Co-operative said it was unlikely to change its position from last year. Other large European institutional investors are also likely to weigh in with a no vote against Murdoch. Dutch pension fund management giant, APG, voted against his reappointment at BSkyB in 2010 and at last month’s News Corp AGM. Investors are increasingly concerned that the legal implications of the deepening News Corp scandal – and how much James Murdoch knew of events – could further damage the satellite company.Other investors will be watching closely his performance in parliament today before deciding how to vote. In July this year, News Corp abandoned its bid for the 61% of shares that it didn’t own in BSkyB after the UK government referred the bid to competition and regulatory authorities following the public outcry over the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, part of News International, the UK arm of News Corp. Since the July hearing, the number of potential phone hacking victims has risen dramatically and evidence has emerged that several journalists were involved. The News of the World was also accused this week of covert surveillance, notably of lawyers acting for phone hacking victims. Murdoch claims he was unaware of the hacking activities at the newspaper and also denies using subsequent compensation payments to victims to bury the issue. Murdoch survived the protest vote at News Corp’s annual meeting in Los Angeles last month, despite a significant vote against him. However, investors have been calling for him to leave the BSkyB board. Lord Myners, the former UK Financial Services Secretary and now UK Chairman at Cevian Capital, the activist fund manager, has called on the board of the FTSE100-listed satellite broadcaster to force Murdoch to stand down as chairman, citing concerns about his “business judgment”.