DirecTV Taps PepsiCo Exec White As CEO

DBS leader DirecTV has hired PepsiCo International CEO Michael White as its president and CEO.
White, who had announced in September that he would retire his positions at Pepsi later this year, will assume the leadership role at DirecTV on Jan. 1, 2010. Succeeding Chase Carey as CEO, White will also be a member of DirecTV's board of directors.
Carey returned to News Corp. as vice chairman and COO. In the meantime, Larry Hunter has served as interim CEO.

White comes to the DBS provider, which with some 18.4 million subscribers ranks as the second-largest U.S. distributor behind Comcast, as it prepares to split from parent Liberty Media and become a stand-along publicly traded entity.

Liberty is making progress toward the spinoff of its Liberty Entertainment tracker, receiving a favorable ruling from the Internal Revenue Service regarding the transaction's tax-free status. The company will hold a special shareholder meeting on Nov. 19, after which the spin is expected to be completed and Liberty Entertainment's 57% interest in DirecTV Group will be merged with the satellite giant. Programmer Starz, the remaining component of Liberty Entertainment, will be housed in a new asset-based stock to be called Liberty Starz.

Since joining PepsiCo in 1990 as vice president of planning for Frito-Lay North America, White has held many senior positions there, including CFO of FLNA, executive vice president and CFO of Frito-Lay International, CFO of Pepsi-Cola Company worldwide and CFO of PepsiCo. During that span he led a transformation of PepsiCo's international business and has helped engineer numerous acquisitions, including the pending agreements to acquire the company's two largest bottlers.
White's resume also includes entries for executive positions at Avon Products, Inc., Bain & Company and Arthur Andersen & Co.
"This is an exciting time to be taking the reins at DirecTV," said White in a statement. "It's a great company with the best television service and a strong brand, offering plenty of opportunities and challenges and I can't wait to meet both head on. I look forward to working with the talented management team and employees as we continue to grow the business, delight the customer and further distance DirecTV's leadership position."
Noted Liberty chairman John Malone: "After a very thorough search, we have found an exceptional leader with a sustained track record of success, profitably growing businesses and a reputation for making the impossible possible. Mike also brings the highest degree of leadership, innovation and passion to the table - all qualities that will help drive DirecTV's performance in the coming years. I look forward to watching him build on DirecTV's success and lead the company to an exciting new future."
Malone also offered kudos to Hunter: "I'd also like to thank Larry Hunter for filling the role of interim CEO since June. He and the entire management team have done an incredible job of keeping the business running smoothly during the past six months and we are lucky to have such an experienced executive team."