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Shareholders revealed: Big name investors clash over BskyB

Shareholders revealed: Big name investors clash over BskyB

BskyB’s biggest backers have shrugged off fears its takeover by News Corporation may be in doubt, even as fresh allegations emerged that the phone tapping scandal had spread to the Sunday Times.

Odey, Fidelity, BNY Mellon and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (Swip), have together snapped up more than 24.2 million shares in the broadcaster in recent weeks, while Legal & General Managed Funds has added roughly 1.8 million shares to its stake, taking its ownership of the company from 0.61% to 0.71%, according to information obtained by Wealth Manager.

Shares in BskyB for the first time on Monday slipped beneath 700p – the price at which News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch (pictured) initially attempted to take control of the UK satellite broadcaster back in June 2010.  Some of these losses were erased over the course of the day, and shortly before 5pm BskyB traded at 703.48p.  The stock closed down, however, and ended the day at 693.73p.

Earlier the same day, investment bank Goldman Sachs followed a string of analysts and upgraded its recommendation on the broadcaster from ‘neutral’ to ‘buy’, a move which may have spurred on a number of asset managers to add to the stock despite allegations that former prime minister Gordon Brown had been repeatedly hacked by a journalist at the Sunday Times, the sole UK broadsheet in Murdoch's empire.

‘’While news flow surrounding the News Corp bid to acquire the shares in BskyB it does not already own is unpredictable, the long-term fundamentals remain strong,’ Goldmans said, arguing that poor sentiment aside, the stock is still on track to deliver high single digit growth in its revenue and an 160 basis point increase  in margins by 2012.  Even in the absence of a bid, the investment bank said BskyB could grow its earnings per share by some 14%.

The asset managers who piled in

Like Goldmans, a string of asset managers also believe BskyB holds potential, including:

·        Odey Managed Funds, which added 19,613,456 shares to its position, boosting its share ownership from 1.26% to 2.37%;

·        Credit Suisse, which added 23,461,014, taking its stake from 1.02% to 2.36%;

·     ·   Legal & General Managed Funds, which bought 1,806,97 to its position, taking its ownership of BskyB from 0.61% to 0.71%;

·        Fidelity Funds and Fidelity Managed Funds, which took on an additional 216,968 shares, and 8,232,111 shares, respectively; and

·        Barclays Capital, a new shareholder which has bought 2,441,647 shares, representing 0.14% of BskyB.

However, the hotly-watched stock has also attracted sellers, with BlackRock, UBS and JP Morgan Securities all reducing their holding in recent weeks:

·        BlackRock Managed Funds offloaded 3,328,312 shares, or cut its BskyB stake from 2.41% on 20 April to 2.22% on 11 July;

·        UBS sold 1,801,666 shares, taking its holding from 1.69% down to 1.59%; and

·        JP Morgan Securities, which reduced its stake by 3,428,149 shares, or from 1.64% to 1.44%.

Aegon, along with M&G’s Thomas Dobell and Schroders' Thomas See were among the few BskyB shareholders who chose to keep their stake static.

Dobell’s M&G Recovery Fund owns 0.54% of the broadcaster, or 9,500,000 of its shares.  See’s Schroders' Income Maximiser owns 0.06%, equivalent to 1,086,245 shares. Aegon Managed Funds holds 0.13% of the broadcaster.

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