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Sky investors resist more Fox directors

November 4, 2015

A group of investors has challenged the appointment to the Sky board of John Nallen, CFO of 21st Century Fox, arguing that the lack of independence will not help the company in the eyes of anti-trust regulators.

The UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which includes 25 members that control about 2 per cent% of Sky, asked the company what the appointment of Nallen “would add” compared with an independent director.

“We have engaged Sky with governance issues in the past,” said Lara Bletcher, corporate governance researcher at advisory firm Pirc which represented LAPFF at the meeting.

Sky chairman Nick Ferguson defended the appointment, saying he saw no reason to change the policy, which has seen more than a quarter of Sky’s board made up of senior executives from Fox, which owns 39 per cent of Sky.

Sky’s 14-strong board has had four Fox executives, 28.5 per cent of all non-executive directors. However, as of the annual meeting on Wednesday David DeVoe, senior adviser to the Fox board and a director, and Arthur Siskind, until recently an adviser to Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, stepped down from the Sky board.

The restructure, which saw the board reduced from 14 to 12 members, included the official appointment of Nallen. Sky now has three Fox members on its board – James Murdoch, Chase Carey and Nallen – 25 per cent of the total number of non-executives.

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