King World Prods. took another step toward growing its business Tuesday, tapping veteran dealmaker Jules Haimovitz as president and chief operating officer.

With Haimovitz filling the chief operating officer slot left vacant since the departure last fall of Steven Palley, King World CEO Michael King’s title switches from president to vice chairman.

Haimovitz’s appointment had been expected (Daily Variety, May 19), but the move didn’t immediately impress Wall Street. King World stock closed down $1 Tuesday at $35.13.

King World’s latest executive hire comes on the heels of Monday’s appointment of Steven LoCascio as chief financial officer.

Haimovitz, who will be based in Los Angeles, is known in the industry as a skilled corporate manager with an eye for smart acquisitions. “He’s a brilliant guy who knows how to buy low and sell high,” said a former colleague.

King World’s choice of Haimovitz was widely viewed as further proof that the company is looking to expand beyond its core syndication distribution operations through acquisitions and alliances. Some have speculated that King World’s ultimate goal is to make the company more attractive to potential suitors.

Haimovitz is “the right guy at the right time,” said King World chairman Roger King.

Haimovitz engineered the 1995 sale of ITC Entertainment to Polygram and has spent the past two years overseeing the integration of the two companies.

Before joining ITC as president and CEO, Haimovitz was president and chief operating officer of Spelling Entertainment, where he spearheaded the transformation of Aaron Spelling Prods. into Spelling Entertainment with the 1989 purchase of distributor Worldvision Enterprises and Laurel Entertainment.

Prior to his tenure with Spelling, Haimovitz spent 11 years with Viacom Intl., where he held several senior executive posts and was instrumental in the growth of Viacom’s basic and pay cable operations. Early on in his career, Haimovitz worked as a planning and development exec at ABC.

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