LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - Pay TV group BSkyB has received the backing of Crispin Odey, one of its top shareholders and one of Europe’s most influential hedge fund managers, in the wake of last week’s high-profile resignation of James Murdoch as chairman.
Odey, whose London-based firm manages $6 billion in assets and who has been a long-term holder of BSkyB shares, said he is still positive on BSkyB, despite the loss of the “massively important” Murdoch.
Murdoch, who until last year was seen as heir apparent to his father Rupert’s media empire, resigned last Tuesday to prevent his links to a tabloid phone-hacking scandal from undermining the firm.
”I like Sky, I like Sky,“ Odey told Reuters on Tuesday. ”In an environment where everything else (is falling apart) it’s a good place to be.
“The whole way along (since we’ve owned it) everyone told us that it hasn’t got a chance ... but it’s coped with technology and now (as) a utility.”
Odey, whose funds own 2.7 percent of BSkyB according to a regulatory filing last year, said Murdoch had helped the broadcaster successfully navigate the threats to its business model posed by the Internet and other technological changes.
“James, who is younger than most, has been very good at understanding the risks of technology. I don’t want to lose that,” said Odey.
“He’s very useful in the boardroom at Sky, it was his baby,” Odey said. “The nice thing is that he’s still on the board. It (the resignation) has ensured people don’t think it’s too much of a Murdoch board.”
He added that James, whose conduct is under scrutiny by a powerful parliamentary committee that is expected to deliver a critical report in the coming weeks, may have become “tired” by the constant focus on him.
“What I feel with all these guys is that if there’s a long war then in the end they get tired. Like Michael Queen at 3i, they start to feel they’re bringing the whole board down.”