ITV Chief Executive, Adam Crozier, who led a turnaround at the broadcaster, is stepping down from his role and from the company’s board after seven years. Ian Griffiths will step into the newly-created combined position of Chief Operating Officer and Group Finance Director, and will lead the executive team for an interim period. ITV Chairman, Peter Bazalgette, will take on the role of Executive Chairman during that time. ITV says it has a “well developed succession plan” in place and that a longer term successor to Crozier will be announced in due course.
Crozier, a former boss of the Football Association and the Royal Mail, was successful in turning around ITV under a five-year plan that reduced reliance on advertising and included an aggressive acquisitions spree, growing production arm ITV Studios. Just yesterday, the company announced it had bought Line Of Duty maker World Productions.
When Crozier joined in 2010, ITV shares were sitting at about 56 pence and have since quadrupled, closing 2016 at 206.4 pence to give the company a market cap of £8.2B. That’s despite a rough year that saw a 3% drop in net advertising revenue amid an uncertain economic and political background as Brexit hovers.
The company’s stock took a hit in the wake of June’s historic Brexit vote, leading to renewed takeover chatter. John Malone’s Liberty Global, which owns 9.9% of ITV, has been floated as a possible buyer, potentially alongside Discovery in which it is also a shareholder.
Crozier said today, “It’s been an absolute privilege to lead the transformation of ITV over the past seven years and I know that I will miss this great business and the people who work here. However, having spent 21 years as a Chief Executive across four very different industries, I now feel that the time is right for me to move to the next stage of my career and to build a portfolio of roles across the PLC and private sectors.”
Crozier in January joined the board of Costa and Premier Inn owner Whitbread as a non-executive which was seen as a sign of his potential departure. ITV is believed to have hired headhunters Spencer Stuart to oversee succession planning for both Crozier and Griffiths.
Under Crozier’s tenure, ITV aired such ratings hits as Downton Abbey, Broadchurch and Britain’s Got Talent. It bought The Voice producer Talpa Media two years ago, and then snatched rights to air The Voice from the BBC. Among the other companies it has acquired in the UK and U.S. are Mammoth Screen (Poldark), Leftfield Entertainment (Pawn Stars), Big Talk (Shaun Of The Dead), Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), High Noon (Cake Boss), Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys), and more recently-formed indies like Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s Monumental Television.
Bazalgette said, “Adam has been talking to me and the Board for some time now about his future plans. He has made a fantastic contribution to ITV and the Board is deeply indebted to him for his strong leadership and personal dedication in very successfully turning around the business and building a more global and diversified organization with real scale in key creative markets around the world. Under Adam, external revenues have grown by over a billion pounds, non-NAR revenues have more than doubled to almost £1.9B, EBITA has grown by 338% and adjusted earnings per share have grown by 844%.
“He has also built a very strong management team and a clear strategy that this team will remain focused on delivering. Coupled with our robust balance sheet and strong underlying cash flows Adam has created a real legacy that will allow ITV to continue to invest and also deliver sustainable returns to shareholders. ITV and the Board wish Adam all the best for the future as he looks to the next stage of his career.”
Crozier added, “Today ITV is more robust, well balanced and stronger both creatively and financially than ever before, and is well placed for the digital future. I wish the company every continued success.” He will leave the business on June 30.