BSkyB’s Ball Celebrates £1.2bn Loss With £7m Pay Package

11 October 2002

Form an orderly line, all you executives with the skills to preside over a corporate deficit of £1.2 billion ($1.88bn; €1.90bn) in a single year. Should BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball ever walk under the proverbial bus, you too could collect a £7m remuneration package for replicating his awesome feat.

The satellite broadcaster, in which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation holds a controlling stake, posted an eyewatering loss of £1.2bn in its last fiscal [WAMN: 02-Aug-02]. In fairness to Ball, however, only NewsCorp’s chairman can be held responsible for the £971.4 million write-down on Sky’s 22% investment in Germany’s KirchPayTV.

According to BSkyB’s annual report, published Wednesday, Ball’s nice littler earner breaks down into a basic salary of £743,545 plus a bonus (including living allowance) of £1.25m. The remainder cash influx came from £5.49m in sales of BSkyB shares, customarily handed to ceos at knockdown prices by grateful employers.

But members of the Association of British Insurers, representing some of the UK’s largest investors, are not amused at the ball enjoyed by Sky’s ceo at their expense. They also point to his rolling two year contract which conflicts with the London Stock Exchange’s corporate governance guidelines.

Says ABI head of investment affairs Peter Montagnon: “Our members are likely to examine this [contract] closely to see if it really is in shareholder interests, especially bearing in mind that it has become an important principle that two-year contracts are too long.”

It has long concerned many in the UK financial establishment that BSkyB is run in a manner more befitting a private company – the term “personal fiefdom” has been used – a criticism that NewsCorp has tacitly acknowledged with its announcement earlier this week of the proposed appointment to BSkyB’s board of three new independent directors.

The broadcaster has written to shareholders in advance of its annual general meeting in November, setting out the resolutions it intends to put to the meeting. These include the election to the board of Gail Rebuck, chief executive of publisher Random House, and Jacques Nasser, former ceo of the Ford Motor Company. The identity of the third candidate has yet to be confirmed.

The trio will join BSkyB’s extant quintet of non-executive directors: Royal Mail chairman and boardroom habitué Allan Leighton; Goldman Sachs president and co-chief operating officer John Thornton; Allied Domecq chairman Philip Bowman; Tory politico Lord St John of Fawsley, non-executive chairman of Blackfriars Investments; and David Evans, president and chief executive officer of Crown Media Holdings Inc.

In such company, Ball’s pay packet seems quite modest.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff