James Murdoch to return as chairman of Sky

High-profile hacking scandal drove him out of the pay-television company four years ago

 James Murdoch will return as the chairman of Sky four years after a high-profile hacking scandal drove him out of the European pay-television company. Photo: Bloomberg

James Murdoch will return as the chairman of Sky four years after a high-profile hacking scandal drove him out of the European pay-television company. Photo: Bloomberg

 

James Murdoch will return as the chairman of Sky four years after a high-profile hacking scandal drove him out of the European pay-television company, cementing his status as heir apparent at his father’s media empire.

James Murdoch, who is Rupert Murdoch’s son, replaces Nicholas Ferguson, who is stepping down after 12 years on the board, Sky said Friday in a statement.

James previously ran Sky as chief executive officer from 2003 to 2007 and as chairman from 2007 to 2012, before stepping down amid the scandal at the family’s News of the World tabloid in London.

The appointment is another signal that James is in line to succeed 84-year-old Rupert Murdoch as the leader of the dynasty.

Last year, James replaced his father as CEO of 21st Century Fox, the US media giant which owns 39 percent of Sky. The appointment also will stoke expectations that Fox may increase its stake in Sky, said Erhan Gurses, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

James was the sole person to be recommended as chairman and got unanimous support from Sky’s board, CEO Jeremy Darroch said on a call with reporters.

His deep knowledge of the international media industry will be a “huge asset” as Sky expands, he said. Sky rose 1.6 per cent to 1,058 pence at 9.10am in London.

The stock has risen 13 per cent in the past year, outpacing the 9.8 per cent drop in the FTSE All-Share Index.

With the return of James, the Murdoch family is further moving past the scandal that tainted their company in the UK Rebekah Brooks, another executive forced out in the hacking scandal, returned last year to her role as head of the UK subsidiary of News Corp.

At the time of the hacking scandal, James was a rising star at News Corp which then included the Fox film studios, cable channels and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg