Ascent CEO Bill Fitzgerald leaves post abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost 10 years in the position
  • Bill Niles taking over
  • Fitzgerald will remain as Chairman at Ascent
  • Fitzgerald said 44 words

(exechange) — Englewood, Colorado, April 5, 2018 — Bill Fitzgerald, chief executive of Ascent, leaves the position. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Ascent Capital Group Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, April 5, 2018, William R. (Bill) Fitzgerald has left his post as Chief Executive Officer at the holding company whose primary subsidiary is Monitronics after almost 10 years in the position, effective March 31, 2018.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.6 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Fitzgerald’s duties were taken over by William E. (Bill) Niles, currently Executive Vice President and General Counsel and Secretary of Ascent Capital Group Inc.

No reason given

In the announcement, Ascent did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for Fitzgerald’s sudden move, leaving room for speculation.

Fitzgerald will remain as Chairman at Ascent

“William Fitzgerald has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer … of Ascent, however, he will continue in his role as Chairman of the Board,” Ascent said.

Alarm signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the position abruptly and without comprehensible reasons being given.

“Stepped down/employment agreement expired”

Ascent said: “William Fitzgerald has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer … of Ascent.”

Ascent further said: “On March 31, 2018, the employment agreement dated February 9, 2009 between Ascent Capital Group, Inc. … and William R. Fitzgerald …, pursuant to which, among other things, Mr. Fitzgerald served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, expired in accordance with its terms.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Ascent Capital Group Inc. since October 2017.

In the position of CEO since 2008

Fitzgerald has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ascent Capital Group, Inc. since September 2008 and August 2008.

He has been a director of the Company since September 2008.

Fitzgerald has also served as a director of the Company’s principal operating subsidiary, Monitronics International, Inc. (Monitronics), since December 2010 and served as Chairman of Ascent Media Group, LLC (AMG) from July 2000 until AMG was sold at the end of 2010.

Fitzgerald also served as a Senior Vice President of Liberty Interactive Corporation (Liberty Interactive) and its predecessors from July 2000 to September 2011 and as a Senior Vice President of the former Liberty Media Corporation (currently known as Starz) (Old LMC) from its split-off from Liberty Interactive in September 2011 to December 2012.

Prior to joining Liberty Interactive, Fitzgerald served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Operations Administration for AT&T Broadband (formerly known as Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI)), from 1998 to 2000 and was Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Operating Officer of TCI Communications, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of TCI, from 1996 to 1998.

Fitzgerald has served as a director of Piper Jaffray Companies since March 2014.

Fitzgerald served as a director of Expedia, Inc. from March 2006 to December 2012, during which time he also served as a member of the compensation committee.

Fitzgerald also served as a director of TripAdvisor, Inc. from December 2011 to February 2013.

In addition, Fitzgerald served as a director of On Command Corporation from 2001 to 2005 and Cablevision Systems Corporation from 1999 to 2000.

Fitzgerald will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board until such time as he ceases to be a member of the Board or, if earlier, until the Board elects another member of the Board to serve in such position.

On March 30, 2018, pursuant to the terms of the bylaws of the Company, the Board passed a resolution to permit Fitzgerald to serve as the non-executive Chairman of the Board, effective April 1, 2018.

Fitzgerald will continue to serve on the Executive Committee.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Bill Fitzgerald’s sudden move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 15.2018 ($).