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BSkyB Hands Investors Cash Bonus, Murdoch Stays

Friday, 29 Jul 2011 | 3:11 AM ET

James Murdoch, the under-fire chairman of BSkyB, was kept on with the unanimous support of the board, the chief financial officer of the cable television company told CNBC Friday.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia.
Miguel Villagran | Getty Images
James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia.

"The board concluded that James has been an excellent chairman and was unanimous that he should remain," Andrew Griffith said.

"Above all, we have to do what is in the best interests of the company”

Murdoch, together with his father Rupert, has faced charges of mismanagement at News Corp, the media empire which owns almost 40 percent of BSkyB, after allegations of phone hacking at the company's British newspapers.

News Corp withdrew its bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not already own in the light of the claims.

Griffiths said that the possibility of another bid by News Corp did not affect the board's discussions of Murdoch's position.

On Thursday night, claims that Sara Payne, mother of a murdered schoolgirl who fronted a campaign to make the names and addresses of convicted paedophiles available to the public, were added to the smouldering bonfire of allegations.

Griffith insisted that there had been no damage done to BSkyB's reputation.

"Consumers are smart, and I think they understand that we are an independent company," he said.

BSkyB announced a 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) return to shareholders, including a £750 million share buyback and a 20 percent dividend hike, to placate shareholders who had hoped for a payout from the News Corp bid. News Corp will participate pro rata in the buyback, which will not raise their shareholding.

BSkyB shares have fallen by more than 15 percent since the phone hacking allegations exploded earlier in July.

The company's revenue rose by 16 percent to 6.6 billion pounds in the year to the end of June as British consumers continued to pay for their cable TV and broadband internet connections despite the slowdown in growth. Annual revenue per customer rose by 31 pounds to 539 pounds, while the number of customers rose by 430,000 to 10.3 million. Adjusted operating profit grew by 23 percent to 1.073 billion pounds.

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