James Murdoch Becomes Chairman of Sky


LONDON: James Murdoch has been appointed to succeed Nicholas Ferguson as chairman of Sky, which has just reported strong first-half financial results.

Murdoch has been a director of the company since February 2003 and previously served as chief executive from November 2003 to 2007 and as chairman from 2007 to 2012. He has been serving as CEO of 21st Century Fox, Sky’s largest shareholder. Martin Gilbert has been appointed as deputy chairman, with Andrew Sukawaty taking over his former role as Sky’s senior independent director.

Murdoch commented: “I would like to thank Nick for his outstanding contribution to the Board over the last decade and more. I am proud to have been asked by the Board to serve as chairman of Sky, one of the world’s leading pay-TV companies. Jeremy and the team at Sky have done an outstanding job in building a dynamic and successful company. As chairman, I look forward to working with the Board and management as they continue to deliver a great service for Sky’s customers and create value for all shareholders over the years to come.”

The news comes as Sky reported its highest ever first-half operating profit, up 12 percent to £747 million ($1.06 billion). It posted revenue growth of 5 percent to £5.7 billion ($8.13 billion).

In Q2, 337,000 new customers joined Sky, the highest U.K. and Ireland customer growth for ten years.

Jeremy Darroch, the group chief executive, commented: “We have had another very strong half as we continue to transform Sky, broadening our business and expanding into new markets and customer segments. This strategy is delivering today and opening up significant growth opportunities for the future. We are pursuing those opportunities with energy and purpose.

“Today’s results show that our approach is working and customers are responding in record numbers. Over 337,000 new customers joined Sky in the second quarter and we sold 1.1 million extra paid-for products. This has delivered strong financial performance with revenue growth of 5 percent, a 12 percent increase in operating profit and 10 percent growth in earnings per share.

“All of our markets are now clearly benefiting from our leadership in content and innovation and being part of the broader Sky. The launch of Sky Q will redefine our top-end TV experience and extend our market-leading portfolio of products to serve the needs of every customer.

“We have extended our lead-in content with a groundbreaking new long-term deal with Showtime, which complements both Sky’s original productions and our partnership with HBO to make Sky Atlantic the best destination for world-class drama across Europe. This will bring customers the return of great shows that include Fortitude, Game of Thrones and The Affair alongside new productions such as Vinyl, Billions and The Young Pope.

“We have also announced that Nick Ferguson, our chairman since 2012, will step down from the Sky Board at the end of April after 12 years as a director. The entire Board offers its warmest thanks to Nick for his leadership as chairman and the major contribution he has made to Sky over many years. We’re delighted that James Murdoch has agreed to step into the role of chairman. James’ deep knowledge of the international media industry and his passion for supporting Sky’s ongoing success will make an even greater contribution to our business in the future.

“We’re excited about 2016 and we start the year with good momentum. With an outstanding set of new initiatives and products for our customers, we are well positioned to deliver further strong growth and returns for shareholders.”