Jeremy Darroch steps down as Sky chief executive | Jeremy Darroch

The chief executive of Sky is stepping away from day-to-day control of the business after being paid more than £100m in his 13-year stint in the job.

Jeremy Darroch, who will become executive chairman, is changing role two years after US giant Comcast’s £31bn takeover of Rupert Murdoch’s pan-European pay-TV and broadband company.

Dana Strong, a former senior executive at Virgin Media, has been named as Sky’s new group chief executive. Strong had previously been seen as a contender to take over the top role at Virgin Media, but she was hired by Comcast two years ago to run consumer services for its US cable operation.

Under Darroch’s tenure, Sky’s value has almost trebled, from about £6 per share when he took over as chief executive at the end of 2007 to Comcast’s take-out price of £17.28 in 2018.

The bid price Comcast paid for Sky generated more than £37m for Darroch when he sold his holdings of Sky shares and others awarded in executive incentive plans.

But the 58-year old, who worked at Procter & Gamble and Dixons before joining Sky, has made well in excess of £100m since joining the satellite broadcaster as chief financial officer in 2004. He received a £17m pay package in 2013, £18m in 2015 and £16m in 2017.

The £37m windfall landed Darroch with a £14m tax bill – more than the total annual UK tax bill paid by Amazon, Facebook and Netflix combined the previous year.

After the deal with Comcast, which triumphed over Disney and Fox in a bidding war for control of Sky, Darroch chose to stay with the broadcaster.

“It has been a privilege to lead Sky for 13 years, and an experience that I have looked forward to every day, so my decision to leave has not been easy,” said Darroch, who took over as chief executive from James Murdoch. “But with the business firmly settled into the wider Comcast corporation and a strong plan in place, now is the right time.”

Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, praised Darroch’s work “seamlessly integrating” the Sky business. “Jeremy has been a terrific colleague to me and everyone at Sky,” he said. “But I respect his decision and I am pleased that he’s agreed to stay on to help with the transition and advise the company.”

Darroch has overseen a massive expansion of the business. In 2014, he spent almost £7bn buying Sky’s sister companies in Germany and Italy, and later expanded to Spain, to build Sky into a pan-European broadcaster with 24 million customers. In the UK, Sky has more than doubled in size since Darroch took over, employing more than 26,000 staff.


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