Former Fox TV President David Evans to Leave BSkyB Board
BSkyB may be responding to calls to reduce the number of News Corp. executives on its board.
LONDON -- Former News Corp executive David Evans is leaving the board of BSkyB after serving a decade on the board of the News Corp-controlled pay-TV giant.
Evans, a former President Fox TV has held a number of senior News Corp positions and more recently was CEO of Crown Media. Allan Leighton, former chairman of Walmart Europe is also stepping down after 11 years.
Announcing the changes, BSkyB chairman James Murdoch said Friday that independent directors Evans and Leighton would be replaced by fund management boss Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, and by Lazard France CEO Matthieu Pigasse.
BSkyB's board has been criticized for having too many News Corp and Sky employees on it - which some have claimed means that it is far from independent.
Post the new appointments, six members of the 14-strong board are still Sky or News Corp executives, including chairman James Murdoch and heavy hitters Arthur Siskind and David DeVoe.
Although shareholders are likely to back the re-election of James Murdoch as chairman at the company's annual general meeting November 29, there is a recognition that the company has to give more of a role to external shareholders.
Crispin Odey, the head of influential Sky shareholder Odey Asset Management, said earlier this year that News Corp needed to loosen its grip on the satcaster.
"James is a great strategist and should remain chairman but at the moment BSkyB has got too many News Corp appointees. They need to take one of the News Corp. appointees off," he told the Sunday Telegraph in the wake of the collapse of News Corp's bid for Sky and the closure of the News of The World.
Odey, himself linked to the Murdoch family through his first marriage -- now dissolved -- to Rupert Murdoch's eldest daughter Prudence Murdoch, added, "for the [Murdoch family] 40 percent [in BSkyB] equals 100 percent and all the shareholders are saying at the moment 'I don't think 40 percent should equal 100 percent. They have got to take account of outside shareholders."