MADRID — Jesus Polanco, founder and prexy of Prisa, Spain’s biggest media company, has named his son, Ignacio Polanco Moreno, as his successor.
The appointment was unanimously approved by the Prisa board on Thursday. No date was set for 51-year-old Polanco fils to take the reins. He has been a board member since 1993 and was appointed Prisa VP on Thursday.
But the choice of heir apparent poses as many questions as it answers about the future of Prisa, the controlling shareholder in Sogecable, owner of top Spanish pay TV operator Digital Plus and new terrestrial broadcaster Cuatro.
The 77-year-old Jesus Polanco, the business brains behind Prisa, has reportedly been seriously ill for some time.
The large question is whether Ignacio Polanco will have the will and power to steer a potentially fractious company once his father has taken a back seat.
Analysts and gossip-mongers are asking how the day-to-day leadership of Prisa will function if Prisa CEO Juan Luis Cebrian remains at his post.
Rumors have built in Spain, not always from Prisa-friendly sources, that Cebrian is courting outside investment to take over the company.
A former editor of the Prisa-owned El Pais, Spain’s most-read and hugely influential daily newspaper, Cebrian positioned Prisa from the early 1970s as a left-of-center media company. It also owns radio network Cadena Ser and, since 1989, Canal Plus.
Also, chemistry is not said to be good between Cebrian and Sogecable CEO Javier Diez de Polanco, cousin of Ignacio Polanco, who sweated for years to wring a small operational profit out of Digital Plus in a country not given easily to paying for TV.
Sogecable third quarter losses stood at e10.2 million ($13 million), dented by Cuatro start-up costs. Cebrian may be keener than Diez de Polanco to court bidders for Digital Plus.
Prisa shares closed Thursday 0.15% down.