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STAR top level upheavals: Nair, Mukerjea likely to quit, Tata Tetley’s Vijay Singh may join in March

15-January-2007
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STAR top level upheavals: Nair, Mukerjea likely to quit, Tata Tetley’s Vijay Singh may join in March

Life couldn’t be more eventful for STAR, that too right at the beginning of the year. The reverberations of STAR CEO, Michelle Guthrie’s, resignation late last week is being felt in India too. It is learnt that STAR Group CEO, Peter Mukerjea, and STAR Entertainment CEO, Sameer Nair, have also put in their papers. A new name expected in India in March 2007 is that of UK-based Tata Tetley’s Vijay Singh. The Tata Group had roped in Vijay Singh in 2002 to head the Tetley operations in the emerging markets. Prior to this, he was CEO of Sony Music. It is unclear as to what would Singh’s role be in STAR.

It may be noted here that Mukerjea is contractually bound to STAR till August 2008, while Nair had signed a five-year contract with STAR in 2006. Both professionals are nonetheless attending office and no further details could be ascertained on these issues.

Considering the speculations, it would not be surprising to see other key players of STAR India in content and other departments quitting in case Nair indeed has decided to part ways with STAR. Among other related developments, a reported one is that of Sanjay Das from STAR Hong Kong moving to India in the finance department. STAR Entertainment’s Steve Askew is also moving on from the organisation.

The question is: with the top brass of Hong Kong moving out and with both Nair and Mukerjea gone (if that happens), what would be the impact on STAR’s Asia and, more importantly, India operations? Would STAR be content with new hands on the India affairs, when India contributes to over 80 per cent of STAR revenues?

It may be noted that reports in a section of the media on Friday had stated that Sameer Nair’s next stop was NDTV. However, NDTV stated that there was no truth that Nair was joining them.

Meanwhile, Guthrie will be succeeded by STAR Group’s President, Paul Aiello from March 1. In a letter addressed to STAR employees, Guthrie stated: “I’m sorry to let you know that I have decided to resign as Chief Executive Officer of STAR. Obviously, this is a very difficult decision for me as I’ve been with the company for almost seven years and have a great attachment to it and particularly to all of you. Nevertheless, I have decided it is time for me to take a break.”

Aiello had joined STAR last year. Even before he joined, he had provided investment and strategic advice to the company for the last five years while working for Morgan Stanley.

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