Murdoch Major Lashes Out at BSkyB Investor Mutineers

07 November 2003

Rupert Murdoch rarely drops his impassive mask.

But speaking Wednesday in a worldwide conference call to journalists within the far-flung News Corporation empire, he revealed his anger at BSkyB's dissident shareholders who opposed the appointment of his younger son James as that company's ceo.

"I challenge anyone to say that there is anything wrong with the corporate governance," he railed. None of those investors put a penny into [BSkyB]. It was developed entirely by us off our back. All shareholders are treated equally."

It was an "outrageous libel" that with James at BSkyB's helm it would become a cash cow for NewsCorp's global ambitions. His son's appointment "had been welcomed" by the company.

Continued the proud paterfamilias: "BSkyB is getting more subscribers and having better profits. It is going extremely well. It is a happy ship … and they are looking forward to the new leadership."

Meantime, among the seething Brit investors, at least one major dissident appeared to backtrack in its opposition to James.

Following a meeting Wednesday between the National Association of Pension Funds and Sky non-executive director Allan Leighton - a principal gopher between NewsCorp and rebel shareholders - the former announced it would not be recommending its members to vote against James' appointment at BSkyB's annual general meeting.

But there was an important NAPF proviso: "BSkyB needs to convince institutional shareholders that the father-and-son relationship at the head of the company will not constrain the board decision-making process and concentrate too much power in the hands of one family which is inextricably linked to the major shareholder."

Why the retreat? No-one is saying. But some observers detect the merest waft of Eau de Writ in NAPF's comment that it could not "cast aspersions" on the recruitment process as this would "reflect a lack of faith" in Spencer Stuart (the New York firm involved in the search for a ceo) as well as BSkyB's non-executive directors.

Data sourced from: and; additional content by WARC staff