James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chairman to avoid being ‘lightning rod’
"As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company." He added: "I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation."
Murdoch will remain a non-executive director of the company, which spurred this reaction from Louise Rouse, whose firm FairPensions advocates responsible investments by fund managers:
"Any suggestion that Mr Murdoch will remain as a director of BSkyB will likely be challenged by investors. While people should have the opportunity to learn from their failings, it is a big ask of shareholders for him to expect that a FTSE 100 boardroom is the appropriate classroom."
The Guardian is live-blogging the news.
News Corp., which owns about 39 percent of BSkyB, pulled its bid to buy the remaining portion of the company after the phone-hacking scandal exploded last July. "It has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate," News Corp. chief operating officer and president Chase Carey said in a statement at the time.
Reading between the lines
News Corp. has issued a joint statement from Carey and Rupert Murdoch thanking James Murdoch for his work. But how should it be interpreted? All Things D's Peter Kafka writes that the company "is making a show of publicly backing" Murdoch. The Guardian's take is decidedly more negative: "That it's a joint statement is very surprising. And the language is hardly warm. It just says 'we are grateful' for James Murdoch's work."
Related: Investment firm calls on News Corp. to appoint independent chairman (Reuters)