Mukerjea, Nair latest out STAR Group door

India execs follow Guthrie exit

NEW DELHI -- News Corp.'s Hong Kong-based STAR Group confirmed Sunday that two of its senior executives at Mumbai-based STAR Group India have resigned: STAR Group India CEO Peter Mukerjea and STAR Entertainment India chief executive Sameer Nair.

Mukerjea will end his term at the end of January, while Nair will depart at the end of March. No announcements have been made regarding replacements, though the statement said that Hong Kong-based STAR CEO designate Paul Aiello will be acting CEO of STAR India. Last week, STAR Asia CEO Michelle Guthrie resigned. She leaves at the end of March.

"Peter and Sameer are two extraordinary executives in the industry," Aiello said. "The transformation of STAR India into the leading television network in the country came in no small part due to their leadership. It is with great regret that we accept their decisions to resign from the company."

Mukerjea and Nair have been with STAR since the broadcaster launched its India operations more than a decade ago. Though Nair is rumored to be joining a new entertainment broadcasting venture promoted by New Delhi-based NDTV, Mukerjea confirmed to a business paper Monday that he will be joining his wife's global executive search company INX Global as chairman.

Mukerjea and Nair spearheaded STAR's stellar growth fueled by the success of family soaps and especially the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," whose third season begins Monday hosted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

But over the last couple of years, STAR India had been losing ad revenues and market share to rivals such as Indian broadcaster Zee TV.