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Sky TV CFO Jason Hollingworth departs, heads to Vector

By Paul McBeth

March 15 (BusinessDesk) - Sky Network Television chief financial officer Jason Hollingworth is leaving the pay-TV operator after more than 16 years with the firm to take up the vacant CFO role at electricity, gas and telecommunications lines company Vector.

Hollingworth will finish up at the Auckland-based company on May 21, clearing the way for new chief executive Martin Stewart to set up his own team. Six days later, Hollingworth will take up the chief financial officer role at Vector, where Dan Molloy recently left to take a break in his career and travel with his family.

"Jason has been with Sky for over 16 years and has made a significant contribution to the success of the business," the company said in a statement. "He leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the management team and board."

Sky's long-serving CFO joined the pay-TV operator in June 2002, having held the same role at what was then Telstra Saturn. Before that, he'd been an investment adviser for Ngai Tahu Holdings and worked in investment banking for Southpac Corp.

Vector welcomed its new appointee, noting his past experience in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, retailing, and building network and infrastructure assets to match funding and customer demand.

"I am pleased to welcome Jason to the organisation and look forward to the valuable contribution he will make, particularly given his experience across a broad range of sectors," Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie said.

Hollingworth had said he was considering throwing his hat in the ring for the top job when veteran CEO John Fellet announced his exit last year. However, Sky's board opted for Stewart to oversee the transition from a traditional satellite pay-TV broadcaster to a multi-platform entertainment business.

Stewart was CFO at BSkyB in the UK between 1998 and 2004, a period when the media group doubled its subscriber base, and has experience in sports - a key attraction for Sky TV subscribers - having been CFO of the Football Association and a board member of the London organising committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

More recently, Stewart led Dubai-based OSN where he oversaw the introduction of a new online platform and focused on improving the firm's digital infrastructure.

Sky TV's share price sank to a record low $1.25 earlier this week as investors grow increasingly wary of its ability to adapt to a new environment where on-demand streaming services such as Netflix compete more aggressively for content, driving up the price, while at the same time offering cheaper and more user-friendly packages for customers.

Speculation that the stock will be removed from a major index added pressure to the share price and, while it's since recovered to $1.40, it's still a far cry from the $6.95 peak in September 2014.

A key issue is Sky TV's ability to retain premium sports, in particular, rugby broadcasting rights. Spark New Zealand pointed to Sky TV's dominance in holding premium sporting content rights when it opposed a planned tie-up between the pay-TV broadcaster and Vodafone New Zealand, a complaint that helped sway the Commerce Commission in blocking the $3.44 billion deal.

Spark has since gone on the offensive, securing rights to this year's Rugby World Cup and partnering with state-owned broadcaster Television New Zealand to meet the free-to-air obligation and provide a backstop if there are any question marks around the technology.

The telecommunications company's Spark Sport platform is being offered in a 30-day trial mode this month.

Sky TV noted that heightened competition in its first-half result, saying "it is important that Sky retains a disciplined approach when bidding reaches irrational levels" and that it was confident that satellite's more reliable distribution still gives it an edge.



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