Tony Ball, chief executive of BSkyB, the UK satellite TV giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, was a busy, busy bee on Tuesday.

Not only did he announce that day his company’s return to the black with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization) swinging from a £22.1m loss to a £260m profit [WAMN: 13-Aug-03] ... he also found time to sell a £9.3 million slab of his personal shareholding in the company.

The latter action came within hours of telling the world: “We are highly confident of reaching our seven million subscriber target by the end of 2003.” Not to be outdone, BSkyB finance director Martin Stewart followed suit, cashing-in stock to the value of £4.23m.

No reasons were given for the significant disposals, and both men retain substantial holdings in the company – intended as long-term incentives. Ball (47), a former TV technician, still holds options on shares to the value of £10.8m (at Wednesday’s closing price of £7.04), and Stewart sits on shares worth £5.6m.

The company refused to comment on the disposals.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff