CFO quits Time Warner-backed east Europe broadcaster in new shake-up

PRAGUE Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:14pm EDT

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - The chief financial officer of broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises is to quit, the latest departure at a loss-making group where major shareholder Time Warner has been strengthening its hold.

CME, facing falling advertising income in its six central and eastern European markets, saw its veteran chief executive quit in August, to be replaced by two joint CEOs with backgrounds at Time Warner, which has 49.9 percent of the company.

The Bermuda-headquartered company, founded by billionaire Ronald Lauder, said in a statement on Thursday that chief financial officer David Sach would leave from October 29.

Anthony Chhoy, executive vice president for strategic planning and operations, would leave on November 15.

"It was a mutual decision between him and the board," investor relations head Mark Kobal said, referring to Sach.

Sach's deputy, David Sturgeon, will stand in as CFO until a replacement is found, CME added.

CME shares traded down 3.4 percent before Prague's closing bell.

The company raised prices this year, a move which many customers balked at, including in its biggest market, the Czech Republic, but which the company says will return it to growth.

Last week, the head of its Czech flagship station resigned and in July the company halved its guidance for 2013 core profit after first-half results.

CME, wanting to cut its debt load, reduced net debt to $795 million at the end of June from $1.066 billion at the end of March following equity offerings and debt repurchases.

The two new joint chief executives are Christoph Mainusch, who most recently worked as a consultant for Turner Broadcasting International, and Michael Del Nin, senior vice president of international and corporate strategy at Time Warner since 2008.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet, Editing by Patrick Lannin)

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