California pension giant votes against entire BSkyB board

Investor pressure ahead of next week’s AGM

US pension giant the $155bn (€115.7bn) California State Teachers’ Retirement System, CalSTRS, has voted against the re-election of the entire 12-member board of London-listed satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

CalSTRS has pre-disclosed its voting intentions ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on November 29.

Separately, fellow US fund the Florida State Board of Administration, which runs the $129bn Florida Retirement System Pension Plan, has disclosed that it plans to vote against the re-election of company chairman James Murdoch.
The news comes as it has emerged that opposition Labour MP Chris Bryant has written to 40 major shareholders urging them to vote against Murdoch’s re-election, according to a report in the Guardian. It quoted Bryant as saying he is “deeply concerned” that Murdoch’s re-election could damage the company and the reputation of UK corporate governance. “I believe that shareholders must hold him accountable,” he said.
Murdoch has been under pressure from investors over his role in the phone hacking scandal at News Corp., where he is a director and son of Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.Earlier, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) advised its members to oppose James Murdoch’s re-election – pointing to concerns about his independence, and the “ongoing risk of reputational contagion” from his association with the scandal.
The Florida SBA is also voting against three other BSkyB directors: David DeVoe, Thomas Mockridge and Arthur Siskind. It’s also voting against the remuneration report, although CalSTRS plans to approve this.

The Christian Brothers Investment Services, which brought a floor resolution seeking a separate chairman/CEO at News Corp.’s AGM last month, will also vote against James Murdoch and Siskind.

It’s unlikely that some of BSkyB’s UK-based institutional investors, such as Aviva Investors and the Co-operative Asset Management will change their no votes against Murdoch this time around.

It also emerged yesterday James Murdoch has resigned as a director of News Group Newspapers Ltd., publisher of News Corp.’s Sun tabloid, and Times Newspapers Ltd., publisher of the Times broadsheet titles.

BSkyB last week nominated Martin Gilbert, founder and chief executive Aberdeen Asset Management to its board.