MILAN — Letizia Moratti, the wealthy and politically well-connected former president of Italy’s pubcaster RAI, abruptly broke up with Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday night, resigning from all the positions she has held in the global mogul’s European TV unit since the end of 1998.
They include the presidency of Milan-based News Corp. Europe, an entity Murdoch created last year when he was trying to develop his TV business in continental Europe, as well as seats on the boards of London-based BSkyB and News Intl.
Scuttlebutt in Italy is that the upstart Moratti ruffled a few too many feathers among senior members of the Murdoch camp.
As a consequence, her powers were effectively limited despite the good personal relationship with Murdoch and the positive results she achieved in Italy.
Only a few months after Murdoch hired Moratti, News Corp. inked a deal to acquire a 35% stake in Italy’s second digital platform Stream, the most significant Continental European pact the company has inked to date.
“I am very satisfied with the work accomplished in less than one year with News Corp. Europe. We focused our strategies and priorities, and we made a first important investment gaining credibility,” Moratti said in a brief press release Tuesday. “In my opinion, it was necessary to strengthen our position and face new challenges giving News Corp. Europe a strong central role in the overall company. But News Corp. does not share this vision.”
“We thank Letizia Moratti for the work she accomplished. We wish her well,” was Murdoch’s flat comment in a short press release.
As of Tuesday, Stream was still negotiating with Vittorio Cecchi Gori and Telecom Italia to sell them minority stakes in the digital TV platform. They would not comment.
Moratti gained her media reputation when she took Italy’s ailing pubcaster RAI in hand and whipped it into financial shape in record time. She was subsequently courted by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia as a candidate for mayor of Milan, but she wanted to remain in Italy’s TV arena.
She is married to oil baron Gian Marco Moratti and is one of Italy’s most successful businesswomen.