Stock Market Winces as Murdoch Buys Back BSkyB Shares

28 September 2006

ISLEWORTH, UK: News Corporation has increased its stake in British satellite TV monopoly BSkyB from 37% to 39%. The hike resulted from a share buyback programme, thereby triggering a few pained winces from institutional investors.

The typically Murdochian manoeuvre enables NewsCorp to make gains in acquisitions of the company's shares without having to make a full takeover bid.

Outright ownership has never been part of Rupert Murdoch's gameplan, the wizard of Oz instead preferring to exert control via the largest single stake in the quoted companies within his stable.

The share buyback programme has not been popular with the broadcaster's savvier stockholders following its implementation last year. Among its more vocal critics are the Association of British Insurers and Hermes Pension Management.

Shares in BSkyB edged down 1.4% on Tuesday as a result of the move. Suggesting a stock-market wince rather than a shudder.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff