Juarez dials off at Telefonica

Exec to establish own Spanish-American consultancy

MADRID — Ele Juarez, the last of Spanish telco giant Telefonica’s media mavens, has thrown in the towel.

His resignation June 4 as managing director, strategic alliances, of Telefonica Contenidos, marks more than Telefonica’s loss of the best known, best connected and most American-minded of Spanish TV execs. It ends Telefonica’s pretensions to building a media group.

Telefonica still owns Dutch TV giant Endemol, Spanish prodco Lolafilms and Argentine web Telefe — but for how long?

With Juarez out, Telefonica lacks a media executive with the vision and stomach to bang any sense or synergy into its shrinking ragbag of media assets.

Juarez spent nearly 10 years advancing the cause of digital TV entertainment in Spain and Latin America, first as managing director of Spanish pay TV leader Sogecable from 1995 to 1998, where he closed six U.S. studio package deals. He became prexy-CEO of HBO Latin American Group from 1998 to 2000, where he pushed its adoption as a premium service.

Given a long leash by Juan Jose Nieto, then prexy of Telefonica media arm Admira, Juarez drove Telefonica’s last phase of media expansion from 2001 to early 2002. His credits include pacts between the Telefonica-owned Endemol and Globo and Televisa; deals teaming Admira and Venevision, Warner Bros. and Disney; Endemol’s buy up of “Operacion Triunfo” inventors Gestmusic.

But, with Nieto gone, Juarez was reigned in and Telefonica media assets, regarded as high-profile headaches, were cavalierly squandered then cleaned out.

Juarez would be justified in hanging up his Rolodex, taking time out to cultivate his wine cellar, which has an interesting line in Petrus and Spanish Vega Sicilia, and enjoying vistas of the lunar-like Guadarrama Sierra from his chalet north of Madrid.

But he is not a thumb-twiddler. He intends to launch Intuicion Media, a Miami/Madrid-based consultancy.

Juarez will work a two-way street, repping Spanish companies internationally, and international companies — especially U.S. entities — in Spain.

Intuicion’s existence underscores the fact that Spanish media sands are shifting fast.

“The Spanish media business has to be re-invented,” Juarez says. “There’s a need for sophisticated negotiations, between Sogecable’s new digital platform and the studios in Hollywood, basic channel providers, satellite companies and Spanish producers.

“I would like to be a facilitator, enabling things to be done peacefully,”

Rather than bowing out, Spain’s preeminent deal-maker looks set for a bigger role than ever.

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