July 23, 2019 / 3:55 PM / 6 months ago

Johnson poaches Sky executive to burnish business credentials

LONDON (Reuters) - Boris Johnson has poached senior Sky boss Andrew Griffith as his business adviser in one of his first appointments before moving into Downing Street, tasked with repairing relations with the corporate sector ahead of Brexit.

Boris Johnson, leader of the Britain's Conservative Party, and Member of the Parliament Mark Spencer leave the party's headquarters in London, Britain July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Griffith worked his way up through Sky under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership, becoming chief financial officer in 2008 and helping create Europe’s biggest pay-TV group that was bought by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) last year after a multi-billion-pound battle with Twenty-First Century Fox and Disney.

He will be based full time in 10 Downing Street from Wednesday, the first day of Johnson’s premiership, Sky’s Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said in an email to staff seen by Reuters.

Griffith, a former candidate for Johnson’s Conservative Party, lent his Westminster townhouse to the incoming prime minister as a base to plot his first steps towards the premiership.

His appointment, just hours after Johnson was voted Conservative leader by party members, stands in contrast to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s early approach to the corporate sector, when she appeared keen to distance herself from big business.

Griffith will need to build bridges between the City and Johnson, who has said Britain will leave the European Union “do or die” by Oct. 31.

One colleague who worked with Griffith at Sky said he had an incredible intellect and an ability to “make stuff happen”.

Sky’s Darroch said Griffith had “played a fundamental role” in many of the company’s collective achievements, including building its subscriber base from about 3 million in Britain and Ireland to more than 24 million across Europe.

Griffith was paid 9.10 million pounds, including 6.77 million pounds under a bonus scheme that vested in alternate years, in 2016/17, and 2.5 million pounds in 2017/18, Sky said in its 2018 annual report.

In addition, he received a 17 million pound windfall from the Comcast takeover, according to reports.

As well as Sky, where he was chief operating officer as well as CFO, Griffith is a non-executive director of takeaway delivery platform Just Eat. (JE.L)

Additional reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison

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