Summary:

BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) is to appoint Matthieu Pigasse, controlling shareholder of Le Monde and the French edition of Huffington Post, and Aberdee…

James Murdoch
photo: Hubert Burda Media

BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) is to appoint Matthieu Pigasse, controlling shareholder of Le Monde and the French edition of Huffington Post, and Aberdeen Asset Management founder Martin Gilbert as independent board directors.

The satellite broadcaster intends to appoint Gilbert and Pigasse, who is currently vice-chairman of Lazard Europe, following what is expected to be a fiery annual general meeting on 29 November.

BSkyB chairman James Murdoch, who is set to feel the wrath of shareholders who question whether he should lead the company after his handling of the phone-hacking scandal at News International, said that the appointment would inject “wide-ranging expertise” to the board.

“With backgrounds encompassing significant experience in UK public companies and the European media sector, they will complement and add to the existing skills of our board,” he added.

The composition of BSkyB’s board has been criticised by some investors who argued during News Corporation’s bid to take full control of the company earlier this year that the largest shareholder wielded too much influence and that a significant number of members should be changed.

News Corp ultimately abandoned its bid to acquire the 60.9% of Sky it did not already own in July at the height of the phone-hacking scandal.

The pair will replace Allan Leighton – the former Post Office chairman who has served for 11 years, two more than is recommended by good corporate governance – and David Evans, who is one of eight independent non-executive directors despite having previously worked for News Corp.

BSkyB reiterated its position that the appointments are part of programme to replace board members as they retire, not a response to criticism from investors and observers.

“The board has begun an orderly programme to replace existing Directors as they retire over the coming years,” said Lord Wilson of Dinton, chairman of BSkyB’s corporate governance and nominations committee. “After a comprehensive search supported by external consultants, we are pleased to have identified two strong, independent directors who will contribute to the company’s continued progress.”

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.

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