ITV Names Carolyn McCall CEO

ITV headquarters in London - H 2017
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The first woman in the role will take over in January after Adam Crozier had said earlier this year that he was leaving the U.K. TV giant.

U.K. TV giant ITV has named easyJet CEO and former CEO of The Guardian Media Group Carolyn McCall its new CEO, effective Jan. 8, 2018.

She will become the first woman to run ITV and also join its board. Longtime CEO Adam Crozier earlier this year had announced he was stepping down June 30.

ITV chairman Peter Bazalgette, who has been leading the search for a new CEO, unveiled the company's future top executive in charge of day-to-day operations Monday.

ITV was understood to have been considering several CEO candidates. They included McCall, former STV head Rob Woodward and insurance company Direct Line's boss Paul Geddes, according to reports.

"In a very impressive field of high caliber candidates, Carolyn stood out for her track record in media, experience of an international operation, clear strategic acumen and strong record of delivering value to shareholders," Bazalgette said. "I'm delighted we'll be working together at ITV."

“I’m really pleased to be joining ITV," said McCall. "It is a fantastic company in a dynamic and stimulating sector. I am looking forward to getting to know all of the people at ITV and helping it make the most of the amazing opportunities that it has in the future."

Crozier oversaw the company for more than seven years and led its transformation from an advertising-dependent networks company into a broader business with a big production arm, which he expanded via acquisitions and digital assets.

Among the TV production companies ITV has acquired in recent years are Dutch firm Talpa, Gurney Productions, the company behind Duck Dynasty, Real Housewives of New Jersey producer Leftfield, Cake Boss maker High Noon Entertainment and Hatfields & McCoys producer Thinkfactory Media.

ITV finance chief Ian Griffiths was recently promoted to a newly created combined role of COO and group finance director to lead the executive team for an interim period. Bazalgette took on the role of executive chairman during that interim period.

McCall will receive an annual salary of 900,000 euro ($1.18 million) and a pension allowance of 15 percent of her salary. "She will also be able to participate in the company’s existing annual bonus plan up to a maximum of 180 percent of salary, and the long-term incentive plan up to 265 percent of salary," the company said. "This provides broadly the same remuneration opportunity as to ITV’s previous CEO."

During her tenure at easyJet, she has brought a customer-focused approach to the business and "redefined what passengers now expect from short haul flights," ITV said. "easyJet’s innovative approach has driven both passenger loyalty and growth and delivered sustained success for easyJet’s shareholders."

McCall has been a non-executive director of Burberry since 2014. She also sits on the board of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is a trustee at the Royal Academy. She previously also held non-executive director roles at Lloyds TSB, Tesco and New Look. 

"We see Carolyn McCall’s strengths as very similar to those of outgoing CEO, Adam Crozier," said Liberum Capital analyst Ian Whittaker. "She is seen as being very good with people, at building a strong management team around her and at the ability to 'work the room.' She also has very good links on the government side, which should be very helpful in areas, such as retransmission revenues for ITV."

He added: "We would also not expect a major change in the strategy of ITV post this appointment, which would suggest that ITV is comfortable both with the overall structural position of TV broadcasters and that it has got its broad strategy (focus on building up content and new streams of revenues, plus video on demand etc.) right. The fact that Ian Griffiths, CFO and now also COO, remains also boosts this view."