Ian Griffiths, group finance director, will step up to a newly created combined role of chief operating officer and group finance director. He will also lead the executive team for an interim period, with Peter Bazalgette, ITV chairman, taking on the role of executive chairman after Crozier’s departure on June 30.
In a statement, Bazalgette paid tribute to Crozier’s “strong leadership and personal dedication in very successfully turning around the business and building a more global and diversified organization with real scale in key creative markets around the world.” Bazalgette said the strong management team Crozier had built retained a clear strategy that they would remain focused on delivering.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to lead the transformation of ITV over the past seven years,” said Crozier. “However, having spent 21 years as a chief executive across four very different industries, I now feel that the time is right for me to move to the next stage of my career.”
Since Crozier took over as CEO in 2010 the broadcaster’s revenues have grown 58% to $3.77 billion. This growth was fueled by a near doubling of non-advertising revenue to $2.11 billion after Crozier determined to reduce reliance on the U.K. advertising market and developed ITV as a production powerhouse. ITV Studios now creates more than 7,000 hours of content each year and has acquired a number of production companies, most recently announcing the purchase of “Line of Duty” production company World Productions on Tuesday.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved in turning ITV into one of the most successful and dynamic media and content businesses in the world. All the credit for that achievement goes to the fantastic teams of people working right across ITV,” added Crozier.
As a result of its success under Crozier’s stewardship ITV has become seen as a prime target for potential buyers, following last year’s Brexit referendum and the resulting devaluation of the pound, and Crozier’s exit could revive buzz about whether the broadcaster might be sold. However media analyst Claire Enders thinks the move is unlikely to make ITV more vulnerable to a takeover bid.
Enders says U.S. companies that have been previously suggested as showing the chief interest in a possible acquisition of ITV now have their attention elsewhere, with all eyes on what will happen with AT&T’s $85 billion bid to acquire Time Warner as well as issues surrounding a potential loss of net neutrality. “All the U.S. media companies are focused on these other areas of extraordinary importance right now,” Enders said.
“There is a complete distraction and people in the U.S. do not really understand the evolution of the U.K. market,” Enders added. “They are anti-Brexit and don’t understand where ITV’s exports are going to go.”
She also suggested the company is likely to remain largely unchanged with what she calls Griffiths’ “typical move from CFO to COO.” “He may well be one of the leading candidates for CEO,” Enders said of Griffiths, suggesting the move projects an aura of “certainty and stability.” Griffiths has been with ITV since 2008 and has worked alongside Crozier throughout his tenure.
John Malone’s Liberty Global, which owns a 9.9% stake in ITV, has long been discussed in relation to an acquisition of ITV but its ownership of pay-TV provider Virgin Media could pose anti-trust issues and Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge rejected the speculation telling the U.K.’s Sunday Telegraph in December that Liberty had “enough to do as it is.” Other suggested buyers have included NBCUniversal.
ITV’s U.K. broadcasting licenses currently run until 2024.