Outgoing Virgin Media CEO to Become Guardian Media Group Chair

Neil Berkett P

Neil Berkett will move to the owner of British newspapers "The Guardian" and "The Observer" after leaving the cable giant, which is being acquired by John Malone's Liberty Global.

LONDON -- Neil Berkett, who is set to leave the CEO role at Virgin Media when John Malone's Liberty Global completes its acquisition of the U.K. cable giant, will become chairman of the Guardian Media Group.

The media company, which owns British newspapers The Guardian and The Observer, said Monday that Berkett will take over from Amelia Fawcett, who will retire in September after serving in the post for fours years. The native New Zealander has been a Guardian Media Group nonexecutive director since November 2009.

Berkett previously announced he would leave Virgin Media, and Liberty Global picked News Corp. veteran Tom Mockridge to take over the company when its deal closes. Shareholders of the two companies will vote on the $23.3 billion takeover Monday and Tuesday, with the deal set to close soon thereafter.

Mockridge most recently ran News International, the U.K. newspaper arm of News Corp., after the phone-hacking scandal.

Berkett previously also worked for banking giant Lloyds TSB, insurance firm Prudential Assurance, St. George Bank and East-West Airlines Australia.

“I’m thrilled to be taking over as chair of GMG at such an exciting time," Berkett said. "Amelia has steered a very successful course through challenging times for the whole industry, and we can now be extremely confident about the future. There’s still a lot to do, and I’m looking forward to leading GMG as it continues its transformation into a truly global media organization.”

Said Liz Forgan, chair of the Scott Trust, the sole shareholder of Guardian Media Group: "Neil brings a rich heritage of transformative business leadership, as well as proven digital industry expertise, which will help to take GMG on the next stage of its journey.”

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai