James Murdoch Should Resign From BSkyB Chairman Post, Big Investor Says

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Following the phone hacking scandal at entertainment giant News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit, which the son of Rupert Murdoch also oversees, some shareholders of the U.K. pay TV company call for an independent chairman.

NEW YORK - One of U.K. satellite TV giant BSkyB's most prominent shareholders has called for James Murdoch to step down from the role of chairman amid investor concerns following the phone hacking scandal at entertainment giant News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit, which Murdoch also oversees, the Financial Times reported.

BSkyB's annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 29, and some investors have become vocal that the son of News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch isn't independent enough since he is also deputy COO of News Corp, which controls a 39.1 percent stake in BSkyB.

“While we acknowledge the track record of Mr Murdoch, we think that at this point an independent chairman would be advisable,” Peter Langerman, president and CEO of Mutual Series, a part of Franklin Templeton Investments, told the FT. He did not detail if Murdoch should leave the BSkyB board or just drop the chairman title.

Two other top shareholders are calling on the board to pick an independent chairman, while keeping James Murdoch as a director, according to the FT. “We have said that it would be appropriate for him to step down to be solely a non-executive director,” one urnnamed investor told the paper. “The issue is whether his presence has become a distraction and whether he can be an effective chairman.”

The BSkyB news comes after shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services had said Monday that News Corp. shareholders should vote against the re-election of 13 of 15 members of the entertainment conglomerate's board, including Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch, to increase independent oversight following the phone hacking scandal.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai