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Disney offers sweetener to retain Sky chief

Disney is seeking to keep Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch and his lieutenants on board for two years if it wins the takeover battle for the pay-TV operator alongside the Murdoch family.
Offer documents sent to shareholders by 21st Century Fox, which Disney is due to acquire for $71bn (?56bn), reveal that Mr Darroch, chief operating officer Andrew Griffith and other members of Sky’s senior management are in line for new share awards to secure their loyalty.
Under the planned incentive scheme, Sky executives would be granted shares in Fox if it beats Comcast to win control.
Disney offers sweetener to retain Sky chief

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch

Credit:
SUZANNE PLUNKETT/SUZANNE PLUNKETT
Half of the award would be made when the Disney takeover of Fox is completed in the first half of next year, and the rest 15 months later.
Fox said it had agreed the structure of the plan with the Sky board but not the value of the grants.
The incentive scheme would replace unvested Sky share options held by Mr Darroch that at the current share price are worth nearly ?25m, however.
The plans reflect the importance of retaining key executives “during the critical period of integrating Sky with 21st Century Fox and, subsequently, the enlarged Disney group”, Fox told Sky shareholders.
The disclosure is the clearest sign yet that Mr Darroch, who has led Sky for more than a decade, could stay on under American ownership. Comcast has given private signals that it would also like the 56-year-old to remain in charge if it prevails, but its offer documents say the details would be worked out once the deal was done.
The price per share Fox is offering for Sky
Comcast’s offer of ?14.75 per Sky share, equivalent to ?26bn, leads the bidding. Fox, which has offered ?14 and is effectively controlled in the process by Disney, has more than a month to respond. A Takeover Panel appeal hearing this week could clear the ground for a counterbid.
Sky’s leadership team has seen very little change under Mr Darroch, while the ground on which the company operates has shifted dramatically.
Sky has navigated the threat from BT Sport, expansion into Europe, the rise of the tech giants and two contentious Murdoch takeover attempts.
At least one key member of Sky management, strategy chief Mai Fyfield, has now decided to leave rather than stay to become a subsidiary of a US ­giant.
Meanwhile, Mr Griffith is viewed by some colleagues and City figures as a potential dark horse candidate for the vacant top job at BT.
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