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LONDON – NBC Universal International president Peter Smith is stepping down after a 22-year career with the studio, including three years at the helm of one of the biggest media businesses based in the U.K., NBCU staff were told in an internal memo circulated Monday afternoon.
Smith, who was appointed by former NBC boss Jeff Zucker in 2007 to oversee NBC’s global expansion across TV channels, film and television production, will leave at the end of the month to pursue new entrepreneurial opportunities.
During his tenure Smith grew NBC Universal International revenues from $2.7 billion to $3.7 billion – accounting for around 25 percent of NBC’s total business – and managed a business with 2500 employees and operations in 30 countries. He has overseen acquisitions including Hallmark Channels, Geneon, NDTV and UK indie Carnival Films, which made the hit ITV dramas Downton Abbey and Whitechapel.
Earlier in his career had notable successes at PolyGram/NBC Universal, growing the DVD business from $200 million to $1.2 billion and launching a stand-up comedy business in the 1990s that supported the early career of Eddie Izzard and a generation of other comedy stars.
Smith will remain as a consultant to Jeff Shell, who was announced as chairman of NBC Universal International in January.
“Peter has made a huge contribution and achieved many notable successes in building a really strong platform for continued growth,” Shell said in an internal note to NBC employees seen by The Hollywood Reporter.
NBC did not comment publicly on the internal memo beyond saying that the Smith’s departure was amicable.
But Ynon Kreiz, CEO of global production firm Endemol, whose firm has done business in many of the same markets as NBC Universal, said Smith had increased revenues in an extremely challenging economic climate.
“It has been a very tough operating environment for global businesses in the past few years, but Pete has managed to create opportunities and grown NBC Universal,” said Kreiz, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter.
“He has brought on board smart people like Michael Edelstein, Roma Khanna and Gareth Neame and he has built NBC Universal into one of the leading international players among the major studios. He’s particularly made U.K. drama production a strong asset for NBC Universal going forwards,” added Kreiz.
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