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WarnerMedia to set interim structure after Tsujihara's exit as Warner Bros. CEO


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WarnerMedia to set interim structure after Tsujihara's exit as Warner Bros. CEO

With Kevin Tsujihara's resignation as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. amid an ongoing investigation regarding a personal relationship he had with an actress, all of the executives responsible for running the three business units under Time Warner Inc. are no longer with AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia.

WarnerMedia, which has yet to name a successor for Tsujihara, continues to work with a third-party law firm to complete its investigation with his cooperation about alleged sexual impropriety and whether the executive used his position to advance the career of actress Charlotte Kirk.

Tsujihara wrote in an internal memo to staffers, obtained by S&P Global Market Intelligence, that he was exiting following discussions with WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey where it was determined that his "continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success."

In a memo, Stankey said an interim leadership structure for Warner Bros. would be announced March 19.

The departure of Tsujihara comes just two weeks after Stankey announced a new structure for WarnerMedia that would end the siloed approach favored by Warner Bros., Home Box Office Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. under Time Warner and follows the Feb. 26 rejection of the U.S. Department of Justice's push to overturn AT&T's $85.4 million purchase of the media conglomerate.

HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and Turner President David Levy both resigned their long-held executive leadership positions in the days prior to the March 4 announcement of the restructuring, which sees former NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt with responsibility for the new direct-to-consumer streaming service that is scheduled to bow in the fourth quarter, plus HBO and cable networks TBS (US), TNT (US) and truTV (US).

Meanwhile CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker is now also in charge of the company's various sports holdings, including Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and four regional networks, all of which are now part of the WarnerMedia News & Sports group.

As part of that reorganization, Tsujihara was not only going to continue to lead the company's film, TV and video games businesses, but was to assume oversight for a new Global Kids & Young Adults unit centered on Cartoon Network / Adult Swim (US) and Boomerang (US) and consumer licensing.

In his memo, Tsujihara said he had been "honored to head this organization and work alongside all of its talented employees over the past 25 years. Together we’ve built this studio into an unequivocal leader in the industry...However, it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success. The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing."

In his memo, Stankey said the decision was made with "the best, long-term interests of the company, our employees and our partners in mind. Kevin has acknowledged that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward."

During his 25-year tenure, Tsujihara "contributed greatly to the growth and success of the studio, and for that we thank him," Stankey said in the memo. "I would like to personally thank him for the support he provided me following the close of our merger."

Stankey added that employees have his "commitment to work diligently and quickly to minimize any disruption in the day-to-day operations of the studio as a result of this leadership transition. I will share an interim leadership structure with all of you tomorrow [March 19]."