They fear the 21st Century Fox chief executive does not represent their interests.
Fox is Sky’s largest shareholder with a 39% holding; there remains speculation that Fox might in time launch a full-blown takeover bid.
“Should Fox make a bid for Sky, investors need a strong independent chairman to protect the interests of minority shareholders and negotiate the best possible deal,” said Piers Hellier, chief investment officer at Royal London Insurance, and a frequent critic of Sky’s governance. “Additionally no attempts were made to advertise the position externally, or appoint an agency which goes against the UK corporate governance code.”
Royal London holds 0.35 per cent of Sky shares at a value of £51.5 million.
Murdoch returned to chair Sky in January some five years after the phone hacking scandal at News International that indirectly led to his resignation as chairman. He has been on the board since 2003.
But with eight out of ten larger shareholders supporting a Murdoch chair, the move was never going to fail.
In a statement the board said: “The board decision to re-appoint James as Chairman was unanimous and recognised that he is a highly experienced executive with extensive knowledge of the international media industry and has been a strong contributor to Sky since he joined the Board in 2003. The Board is confident that with the appointment ofMartin Gilbert as Deputy Chairman and Andrew Sukawaty as Senior Independent Director, there are strong governance processes in place to protect the interests of independent shareholders. Nevertheless, we will engage with those shareholders who voted against the resolution.”
He was re-elected with 71.5% of the vote.