Five months after Chase Carey returned to News Corp (NYSE: NWS). as deputy chairman and COO, DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) finally has a successor as CEO: Michael White, now CEO of PepsiCo International and vice chairman of PepsiCo. The announcement comes on the eve of a special shareholder meeting to approve the satellite operator’s combination with Liberty Entertainment. White was picked over insiders Larry Hunter, who has been interim CEO, and Bruce Churchill, EVP, president of New Ventures and president and CEO of DirecTV Latin America, LLC. White is due to retire from PepsiCo this year after nearly 20 years and to leave that company’s board; those plans were announced in September. His first day as DirecTV CEO is Jan. 1.
On paper, this looks like a short-term step, putting a seasoned exec in place with deep international experience and a record, as PepsiCo put it, of engineering acquisitions and “developing the company’s most promising leaders.” In his statement about the hiring, DirecTV Chairman John Malone called White “an exceptional leader with a sustained track record of success, profitably growing businesses and a reputation for making the impossible possible.”
The DirecTV board hired a search firm this summer to look at internal and external candidates. Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) CEO Greg Maffei was said to be interested and numerous other industry execs have been mentioned at various points. We reported that Black Krikorian, cofounder of Sling Media, was among those approached. But the search appears to have been caught up in board politics, the role of Liberty and Malone, who is also chairman of DirecTV. More to come.