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James Murdoch set to return to Sky after media scandal

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's son will take over as the British broadcaster's chairman, the company said in a statement. The announcement has fueled speculations that Fox may be considering a new takeover bid.

British broadcaster Sky on Friday said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that James Murdoch, media mogul Rupert Murdoch's second son, will become its new chairman in April, following a


that witnessed him resign in 2012 from the same role at what was then BSkyB.

"The board has appointed James Murdoch to succeed Nicholas Ferguson as chairman," the company's statement said, referring to a businessman who took over the role in 2012 and served on Sky's board for 12 years.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch welcomed the decision, noting that Murdoch - who took over as

21st Century Fox's chief executive in July 2015

- will greatly contribute to the company's business.

"James' deep knowledge of the international media industry and his passion for supporting Sky's ongoing success will make an even greater contribution to our business in the future," said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch.

On Friday, Sky also announced its highest customer growth in Britain and Ireland in the past decade, and that its first-half operating profits rose 12 percent to 747 million British pounds (984 million euros, $1 billion).

The announcement stoked speculation of a new takeover bid for Sky, of which Fox owns a 39-percent share.

Rupert Murdoch created two companies - 21st Century Fox and News UK - to split News Corp's print and entertainment business

Rupert Murdoch created two companies - 21st Century Fox and News UK - to split News Corp's print and entertainment business

Shared histories

Fox abandoned any takeover ambitions in the wake of a

phone hacking scandal

that ended in the closure of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid "News of the World" in 2011.

To replace the Sunday-only paper, however, the formerly six-day paper "The Sun" launched its own Sunday edition. Previously, the two brands had cooperated.

James Murdoch was the executive chairman of his father's British print empire News International, which owned "News of the World" and "The Sun."

Rebekah Brooks, a former CEO of News International and editor of "News of the World," was cleared of criminal charges in 2014 and resumed duties as chief executive of "News UK" - News International, also renamed - in 2015.

In 2012, Rupert Murdoch announced that he would split News Corp's entertainment and print business into two companies, namely 21st Century Fox and News UK.

"I can't speak for Fox, but what I would read into James' acceptance of the role is that he and they continue to be passionate supporters for Sky's ongoing success," Darroch told reporters.

ls/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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