The negotiating team of Jay Bockhaus and Muriel Malka might be compared to a good cop/bad cop dynamic, except for the fact that it would be a stretch to apply the word “bad” to either. Still, the elements of an effective one-two punch are present in the NBC Universal duo, especially when it comes to style.
Bockhaus, 34, and Malka, 38, are senior vice presidents of business development based in New York. Whereas Bockhaus might be considered more analytical and reserved, Malka serves as an effective counterweight with a more aggressive approach to dealmaking.
“I would say I’m probably a pretty team-building kind of guy,” says Bockhaus, who led the acquisition of Oxygen Media and also helped sell NBC U’s interest in the Sundance Channel to Cablevision. “I like to develop relationships with the business segments. I would say I’m a little more easygoing than Muriel. She is extremely determined and really has a hard-charging attitude.”
Malka, who spearheaded Peacock Equity Fund investments in Adify, Healthline, IGA, Trion, 4Info and BigPoint, agrees with Bockhaus’ description of their partnership, but says despite differences in approach, “We typically come to the same conclusion quickly.
“For instance,” she points out, “when we interview candidates, eight, nine times out of 10 we’re on the same page. We like the same people, or don’t like the same people, for the same reasons.”
Malka joined the company in 2000, Bockhaus in 2004. When Bruce Campbell left his post as executive VP of business development in March 2007 to take over Discovery Communications, Bockhaus and Malka emerged as interim replacements. They now report to Salil Mehta, who was appointed president of business operations, strategy and development in February.
Bockhaus and Malka work in tandem on everything, but tend to split duties according to businesses. “He has his clients, and I have mine,” Malka explains. “That’s a very rough way of dividing it.”
Both say a friendly, encouraging and energetic group of colleagues in their division has made it easier to get deals made. And it helps that NBC Universal topper Jeff Zucker “wants an aggressive approach on the acquisition front,” Bockhaus says. Right now, Bockhaus adds, is a time when opportunities in mergers and acquisitions are plentiful, and “For us it’s a matter of prioritization.”