After he spent another bruising couple of hours testifying on whether it was incompetence or dishonesty that lead to senior execs at News International not dealing with phone hacking and bribing police, James Murdoch will have been relieved to have the BSkyB board back his continued chairmanship.
The board took the unusual step of publicly outlining its continued and unanimous support of Murdoch’s chairmanship in a letter sent to shareholders. A number of prominent shareholders had called for his removal.
Nicholas Ferguson, deputy chairman of BSkyB, said: “We have seen no effect on sales, customers or suppliers over the past five months. The recent results substantiate that. We have seen no effect on the share price, which has materially outperformed the peer group and the FTSE since the bid ended. Finally, we have seen no negative effect internally.”
The letter addressed concerns about Murdoch’s integrity and concluded: “We have known James for some eight years, and during that time he has always acted with integrity in the eyes of both the board and the senior management.”
In answer to questions over whether he could lead the board effectively, according to the UK codes on good governance, he said: “James Murdoch has done a first class job. In terms of the board, he is visibly a good chairman, with good well-structured and open meetings, and sound procedures. He is respected and trusted by the CEO and other senior management; and he has excellent strategic insights.”
Ferguson did acknowledge shareholder concerns about having a chairman from News Corp, which is the majority shareholder in BSkyB: “News Corp have made clear that they are not contemplating [another] bid, and the focus of the entire board is on helping the company to run well. If there was another bid, we have shown that we have clear governance procedures to deal with it.”