Comcast announced Friday that Neil Smit -- previously CEO of Charter Communications -- will be joining Comcast Cable Communications as president.
Smit will report to Steve Burke, chief operating officer of Comcast. He will be responsible for all business aspects of the company's cable operations. He is expected to join Comcast in March and will move to Philadelphia, with his wife and sons, from St. Louis.
Charter said Michael J. Lovett, its executive vice president and chief operating officer, will be interim president and chief executive officer and the board of directors will conduct a national search for a new CEO, considering both internal and external candidates.
Burke had been both president of Comcast Cable and COO of the parent company, Comcast Communications. When Comcast closes its deal to control NBC Universal, Burke will have an expended role over that much-expanded business, so it made sense to bring someone in to run Comcast Cable under Burke, a Comcast source said.
Smit's direct reports will be the direct reports Burke had in the cable division: executive vice presidents David Watson, David Scott, Kenneth Carrig, Tony Werner, John Schanz and Matt Bond.
Reporting directly to Burke, in addition to Smit, will be NBCU chief Jeff Zucker and Comcast Entertainment Group chief Jeff Shell.
Before joining Charter in 2005, Smit, a former Navy SEAL, headed up Time Warner's America Online Internet access service.
"Neil is widely respected throughout the cable industry as a strong leader with deep knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of topics. We look forward to having him on our team as he helps take us to the next level of our company's evolution," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.
"We are very pleased to welcome Neil to Comcast. He will be the perfect complement to our already strong management team. We know Neil well, and his broad management experience in the cable and Internet industries will enable him to hit the ground running," Burke added.
"I am very pleased to join Comcast at such an exciting period for the Company and industry. Comcast has led many consumer innovations in video, high-speed Internet and digital phone, and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with such a terrific group of people," Smit said.
Charter board chairman Eric L. Zinterhofer said in a statement: "The entire organization is grateful to Neil for his leadership and many contributions to Charter, particularly during the Company's recently-completed financial restructuring. We all wish Neil the very best in his new role at Comcast."
"While we launch a search for a new chief executive officer, the company will continue to benefit from the strong team that Neil has developed, especially from the leadership of Mike Lovett. Mike brings considerable experience to his position and will ensure a seamless transition as we search for Neil's replacement," Zinterhofer added.
Smit said in Charter's statement: "I joined Charter in 2005 with the objective to build a stronger company and to develop a world class team dedicated to meeting and exceeding our customers' needs for entertainment and communications services. With the completion of our financial restructuring -- and knowing we have a very strong leadership team in place -- this is an excellent time for me to move on to a new opportunity in this dynamic industry, and to watch Charter continue to excel."
Lovett said in the statement: "I appreciate this opportunity to lead Charter into its next phase. We've enhanced our services and made significant improvements to the overall customer experience over the past year, and will continue to bring further developments to our customers. Charter has the people, platform and products to deliver our customers the entertainment and communications solutions of today and tomorrow."
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