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Mounter unhitches Star, looks for new horizons

In the wake of the News Corp. takeover of Star TV, chief Julian Mounter has confirmed rumors about his future.

“I formally advised (News Corp. chief) Rupert Murdoch by fax on Sunday that I would not be taking up the invitation to continue as chief executive officer,” Mounter said today.

He declined to give a reason for the departure, but sources said that Mounter was not sure he could maintain cordial relationships with Murdoch’s boots’n’all boss of BSkyB, Australian Sam Chisholm.

Chisholm, who has been in and out of Star for weeks, is playing as big a part in the ownership transition stage as he did before the sale was confirmed.

“He’s a very hands-on man, while Mounter is more into strategic planning,” an insider said.

“Although they did try to dissuade him from resigning this time, there would have been a disagreement between them on policy eventually.”

Inside sources said Mounter was also unhappy with reporting structures Chisholm was putting into place that would have eroded the degree of autonomy Mounter had assumed under the Li family’s ownership.

No replacement CEO has been announced, although Star TV spokesman Arnold Tucker said he expected the post to be filled “pretty quickly.”

Mounter, who was appointed to run Star TV by his predecessor, Richard Li, barely six months ago, said he has no immediate plans, and although he says goodbye to Star on Friday, he said he’ll be staying in Hong Kong “until Christmas.”

However, if anything comes of the “interesting offers” he said he’s received since word of his exit filtered out, his location may shift more rapidly.

In the meantime, Mounter said he has no regrets and thinks he did quite well during his short time at the Star helm.

“In the time I was there I managed to sort out quite a few problems, got the subscription side of the business going, brought in a good management team. It’s been quite interesting.”

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