Lachlan Murdoch unveiled Tuesday the executive team that will run a new, slimmed-down and live-TV-and-sports focused 21st Century Fox once the company sells a large chunk of its assets to Walt Disney Co., a mammoth $71.3 billion deal that is expected to close in 2019.
Murdoch, who will become chairman and CEO of a spun-off entity currently being called “New Fox,” appointed a handful of veteran executives to top roles. Eric Shanks, currently president, chief operating officer and executive producer of Fox Sports, will become CEO of the division. Mike Biard, now president of distribution for Fox Networks Group, will become president of operations and distribution for the whole company. Paul Cheesbrough, currently chief technology officer of 21st Century Fox, will be CTO and head of direct-to-consumer platforms for the new company. Marianne Gambelli, now president of ad sales for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, will be president of ad sales for the entire company. Steve Tomsic, now executive vice president of finance and deputy chief financial officer, will serve as the new company’s CFO.
The appointments will be effective upon the close of the sale to Disney. Fox has agreed to sell its TV-production studios, movie studios and several of its general-entertainment cable networks to Disney in a landmark pact that will make that company one of the largest entertainment distributors in the world. Fox, on the other hand, will become a smaller, nimbler operation more dependent on its Fox News operations and sports rights behind such broadcasts as “Thursday Night Football.”
“We are fortunate to be able to continue working with these enormously talented executives who have helped make our businesses the incredible successes they are today,” said Murdoch, in a statement. “Collectively they bring to Fox the vision, entrepreneurial spirit and proven track records to position Fox to seize future opportunities for its leading and deeply resonant brands across sports, news and entertainment.”
Some of the maneuvers will prompt change at the company. Gambelli will take a role that had largely been the province of Joe Marchese, an entrepreneur who gained attention for trying to create new advertising formats for linear TV and digital video. Marchese is expected to stay to help with the transition, then leave the company.
Other moves solidify roles already in place. Shanks, for example, has risen through the ranks at Fox Sports since being plucked from DirecTV in 2010 to be named president of Fox Sports.
Other executive roles had already been announced. John Nallen will be the new company’s chief operating officer. Suzanne Scott will continue to serve as CEO of Fox News and Fox Business Network. Jack Abernethy will remain CEO of Fox Television Stations. Viet Dinh was recently named the Chief Legal and Policy Officer of the new company.
Shanks, Cheesbrough and Gambelli will report to Murdoch. Biard and Tomsic will report to Nallen.