Sky chief Jeremy Darroch plans £11.5m share deal as profits hit revealed


Sky has revealed chief executive Jeremy Darroch is to pocket an £11.5 million share payout on the same day it announced annual profits were hit by the cost of broadcasting live Premier League football.

In a stock market disclosure, Sky said that Mr Darroch intends to offload 1.2 million shares in the broadcaster, which were awarded as part of his long-term incentive plan.

In 2015 and 2016, Mr Darroch's total pay came in at £17.9 million and £4.7 million respectively.

The group's finance chief, Andrew Griffith, is also in line for a circa £6 million payout as he sells 700,000 shares.

The news came after the Game Of Thrones broadcaster reported a 6% fall in operating profits to £1.4 billion in the year to June 30 as it absorbed £629 million of costs linked to its deal to show top-tier English football.

Revenues climbed 5% to £12.9 billion over the period, despite Sky pointing to a weaker UK advertising market.

Shares were broadly flat at 965p in midday trading.

The financial results came as it added 280,000 customers in the UK, including 35,000 in the fourth quarter.

But the rate at which customers left Sky for rival operators rose from 11.2% to 11.5% over the year.

Mr Darroch said the results underscored Sky's "growth and development" and also announced plans to create 300 new technology roles.

He added: "Sky's growth and development has continued to be strong in 2017.

"We are creating 300 new technology roles to further enhance our capability to deploy in and out-of-home streaming platforms.

"We enter '17/18 in a strong position with significant growth potential. Despite the broader consumer environment remaining uncertain, we are confident of delivering on the plans we've laid out."

The group is still the subject of a takeover attempt by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which is attempting to acquire the 61% of Sky it does not already own in an £11.7 billion deal.

Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she is "still minded" to refer the bid to the UK's competition watchdog.

The Cabinet minister said no final decision has been taken but, unless new evidence changes her mind in the coming weeks, she will refer the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on "at least one ground" - that of media plurality.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "21st Century Fox's takeover of Sky looms large over the group.

"Given the price is 40% above what the shares changed hands for just prior to the offer, this remains the dominant issue for shareholders.

"However, Sky's full-year results contain some interesting developments.

"The price increases put through as a result of the higher Premier League football rights deal means more customers are choosing to leave Sky than have done for quite some time. Clearly, this presents a problem."