Peter Chernin and Rupert Murdoch sent these e-mails to News Corp’s staff today, announcing Chernin’s departure.
From: Internal Communications Department
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 3:21 PM
Subject: URGENT: A Message from the Chairman
February 23, 2009
Today, we are announcing that Peter Chernin, our President and COO, will not be renewing his employment contract. Peter will be taking up the opportunity to start a new motion picture and television production venture with Fox.
Attached is the press release.
Many of us who have worked with Peter over his 20 years with the company can attest to his leadership, his diligence, and his wisdom. I can also testify to Peter’s friendship, dedication, and honesty. He has been a close colleague and an ally to me for many years.
While Peter has distinguished himself at News Corp, he has also, increasingly and tirelessly, circled the globe in support of Malaria No More, which has achieved nothing short of remarkable results. Let us all wish him the best of luck, and the greatest success, as he embarks on this new chapter of his career, both as a professional and as a role model for an executive who gives back.
As you all know the downturn we are operating in is more severe and global than anything we have seen before. No company is immune to its effects. I want to take this opportunity, today, to write to you about how we will manage such an important leadership transition, and why I am convinced that today our company is not only well-positioned financially and competitively, but is on the cusp of a new phase of growth. Remember, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy over a year ago. We have managed expenses and capital expenditure prudently, and strengthened our balance sheet. Following the partial sale of NDS, we will have over five billion dollars in cash, and this year we should exceed $3.5 billion in adjusted operating income.
In the past, we have met downturns with vigor, often departing from the herd. We have emerged much stronger.
Achieving our ambitions will require change and renewal. So throughout 2009, I will continue to work closely with all of our companies to make sure that we are organised and resourced in the best way to take advantage of this extraordinary point in time. We will press our advantages and invest in our great franchises. And, of course, we will keep our eyes on big prizes, some of which may arise only once in a generation.
Across News Corp. we have a broad and deep reservoir of extremely able executives.
Over the years we have accomplished great things. People understand, and have acknowledged, our entrepreneurial spirit as well as our doggedness; our willingness to take risks, our contrarian investment style; and our commitment to long-term development and shareholder value.
Many of you have told me how hungry you are to work more closely across our companies. Many of us have been frustrated by the things that can get in the way of that. From systems that don’t talk to each other to incentives that struggle to capture the opportunity and aspiration of our total group. These obstacles are obvious to us all. There will be a streamlined management structure between our Los Angeles based business units and the rest of the company. Peter and I will be communicating more on this over the next few months. For the time being, of course, the talented executive team at the Fox Group will continue to report to Peter.
Now is also an ideal opportunity to streamline and enhance many of the corporate and administrative functions of the business. There will be cost savings as a result, but the more important aim is to be leaner so that we can better leverage our collective talent and expertise. For instance, and beginning immediately, H.R. functions throughout all our units will report to Beryl Cook in New York as well as their division heads. Beryl reports directly to me.
We have worked hard to develop and advance the best among us. The renewal of great companies begins within themselves. Pursuing an edge through superior talent is a priority. This will be a key focus for us in 2009.
In the coming months, I will be reaching out to you with new questions, and with new plans.
We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered. Many people will be under extreme pressure and many companies mortally wounded. Our competitors will be sorely tempted to take the easy beat, to reduce quality in the search for immediate dividends.
Let me be very clear about our company: where others might step back from their commitment to their viewers, their users, readers and customers – we will renew ours.
The direction of the business now and over the next few years will define the character of our company for decades.
We have always thrived on change and challenge. This was true when we began building a newspaper business in Australia. Just as it was when we created BSkyB and developed a fourth US network, the Fox Network, when conventional wisdom dictated that there was room for only three players. It was true when we launched Star, now the leading network in India, and the Fox News Network and Sky Italia.
The best things we have done, and there are many examples, have defied conventional wisdom, often in the teeth of fierce opposition and near universal disbelief in our capabilities.
Over the past 12 months I have spent time with you in India and China, in Italy and the UK and many other countries. We have brought Dow Jones into the fold, extended our influence in Europe, and been at the centre of reporting the arrival of a new American president and the impact of the global financial crisis. We’ve told extraordinary stories, in theatres around the world and on page and screen from Mumbai to Malibu.
Our own international reach is a profound strength. We have intelligent, creative and highly motivated colleagues around the world who are ambitious for themselves, for their countries, for our customers and for our company. The result is that where others simply seek distribution, we are building durable businesses at scale. We are also creating large franchises in marketplaces that will grow at a faster pace in the coming years and, increasingly, our businesses are based on direct customer relationships..
We must always be acutely aware of our responsibility to shareholders, and to create real value for them. This is entirely consistent with, and in many cases inseparable from, the enormous social value we have created over the decades. We provide information and entertainment to billions, enabling them to improve their lives and those of their families. There is genuine value in the values of our company – these are values that are even more important in a world confronting so much today
We believe in communities. The very idea of community is broad, and encompasses interests that cross national, ethnic and demographic borders. We are all members of many different communities, whether it be of people who are passionate about Hollywood films, or care about living in a healthy environment, or use a local jobs website, or trade commodities in Chicago and London, relish soccer whether in China or Nigeria. These communities are our communities, as they read, evaluate and create everyday
That is why, most of all, I believe in the community that is our company.
And Peter Chernin just sent his own memo:
From: Office of Peter Chernin
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 3:17 PM
Subject: Memo from Peter Chernin
I wanted to let you know that I have decided to leave News Corporation when my contract expires on June 30th.
This is not a decision that came easily, but after more than 12 years in my current job, 20 years at Newscorp, and 30 years of corporate life, I am ready for new entrepreneurial challenges. I would not be making this difficult decision if I were not confident in the superb management team we have at Fox and in the visionary leadership of Rupert Murdoch. I have worked closely with Rupert every day, and I know he shares my belief that Fox executives are the best in the business.
I want to thank Rupert for his remarkable support, encouragement and friendship over the years. No company in our industry can match News Corporation’s track record of creating opportunities for employees and there is no better example of that than the opportunities Rupert has given me over the years.
I also want to thank all of you for the privilege of working side by side with such a talented and deeply principled group of colleagues. I am not only deeply proud of your achievements, but even prouder of the character and integrity of the company.
Over the next several months, Rupert and I will work closely to make sure this is a smooth transition for everyone. Thank you for the dedication and enthusiasm that you have always shown and I know will continue to show as the company moves forward to even greater heights.
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