James Murdoch Reelected as Sky Chairman

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James Murdoch

Despite criticism and opposition from some, the Fox CEO won 78 percent of the shareholder vote, including support from slightly more than 50 percent of independent shareholders.

Sky shareholders on Thursday reelected all board members, including 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, 44, who serves as chairman of the European pay TV giant and again faced opposition from some shareholders going into the annual meeting.

Murdoch got 78.0 percent of the shareholder vote in his support, up from 71.6 percent last year. That included support from largest shareholder Fox, which controls a voting stake of 37.19 percent in Sky.

Observers said that the result meant that slightly more than 50 percent of independent shareholders backed Murdoch this year compared with last year, when slightly more than 50 percent had not supported him.

The Institute of Directors had urged Sky to consider replacing Murdoch as chair if he had fallen below 50 percent support of shareholders not affiliated with Fox.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch, Fox CFO John Nallen and former Fox No. 2 Chase Carey were also among those board members reelected on Thursday, each with more than 98.5 percent of the shareholder vote in their favor.

Last year, Sky's board tapped Murdoch to become its chairman. He had previously been CEO of Sky's U.K.-only predecessor BSkyB between 2003 and 2007 and then chairman until April 2012 before becoming a nonexecutive director on the board. In late 2014, after BSkyB acquired Fox's Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, the bigger company changed its name to Sky.

Some institutional shareholders had criticized Murdoch's appointment as chairman, arguing that could pose a conflict of interest given his role as CEO of Sky's largest shareholder.

Fox late last year struck a deal to take full control of Sky. The U.K. regulatory review of the deal is expected to run through early next year.

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