Paul Aiello named Star CEO after Guthrie exit

MUMBAI: Star has appointed Paul Aiello, currently its president, as chief executive, replacing present CEO Michelle Guthrie, who has resigned. Guthrie's departure will be effective 1 March.

It was only last April that Aiello was appointed president in a newly created role and put in charge of developing strategic and business directions for the pan Asian broadcaster while overseeing corporate functions including business development, strategy and implementation, Star ventures, government affairs and corporate communications.

The position of Steve Askew, chief operating officer (Star) & president (Star Entertainment) in the new dispensation is also unclear. Askew is presently on four months' sick leave, according to industry sources.

Commenting on the announcement, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch said, "Paul has done an exceptional job at Star since joining the company, leading its corporate team and overseeing its overall growth strategy. Paul?s business acumen, strong leadership and financial skills as well as in-depth knowledge of the diverse and complex media and telecommunications industries in Asia make him the ideal candidate to steer the long-term growth and success of the company."

Meanwhile, Star officials refused comment on reports that Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair had resigned and would be joining Prannoy Roy's NDTV. Attempts to contact Nair proved fruitless at the time of filing this report.

When contacted, NDTV officials were quite categorical that reports of Nair's joining the news major to head up their broadcast entertainment venture were without basis.

Aiello's appointment followed soon after the creation of a new, convoluted executive structure within Star wherein Steve Askew was named president of Star Entertainment in addition to COO of Star.

The biggest news then was of course the shake up in the Indian operations wherein two units were created - Star Group and Star Entertainment - with Peter Mukerjea made CEO of Star Group India and Nair promoted from COO to CEO of Star Entertainment.

As CEO of Star Entertainment, Nair was given the responsibility of overseeing all day-to-day operations including programming, marketing, advertising sales and distribution while pursuing growth opportunities in new media including wireless and internet.

Nair was reporting to Askew while Mukerjea continued to report to Guthrie.

Aiello, 42, joined Star from Morgan Stanley where he worked for more than nine years. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Aiello was vice president, mergers and acquisitions, Investment Banking Department of CS First Boston Limited, Hong Kong.

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