Juan Jose Nieto, CEO of Spanish broadcaster Antena 3, admitted last Thursday during a shareholders' meeting that he might resign from his post in order to focus on his dual position as CEO of Telefonica Media and new member of Telefonica's powerful Executive Committee.
Sources at the broadcaster suggested that Nieto's confirmation last Wednesday to the Executive Committee was a decisive move which draws the young executive further into the Telefonica fold and away from Antena 3, in which Telefonica holds a 47.2% interest. Nieto was appointed to head Antena 3 in 1997 and in three years turned the indebted network around to 1999 profits of $131m.
The simultaneous announcement Wednesday of the departure of Telefonica Media president Jose Antonio Rios, and his replacement by Telefonica head of communications and institutional relations Manuel Garcia-Duran, could mean a more active role in the media subsidiary for Nieto. Garcia-Duran - whom local press refer to as one of Telefonica president Juan Villalonga's "strongmen" - was also appointed vice president of Antena 3 in May when Telefonica announced the sale of an 11% stake in the broadcaster to Bertelsmann/CLT-Ufa.
But Antena 3 executives also confirmed at last week's shareholders' meeting that the Bertelsmann deal has not yet been closed. Bertelsmann chief Thomas Middelhoff is rumoured to be travelling to Madrid this week to discuss the deal.
Analysts suggest that the recent changes at Telefonica Media have been done with an eye toward buffing up the division before a planned autumn stock flotation. Telefonica Media has added significant content to its holdings in recent weeks, including Dutch entertainment giant Endemol, awaiting its own IPO, and Barcelona-based content packager Media Park.