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Jeremy Darroch steps down as Sky Group chief executive

Exec who transformed former satellite TV provider into Europe’s largest multi-platform communications provider with mobile, telephony and FTTH steps down after 13 years

In a move that will see one of the longest-serving and most successful leaders of a major British company vacating their position, Comcast-owned UK communications firm Sky has announced that Jeremy Darroch has decided to step down as Group CEO of Sky after 13 years leading the company.

Darroch has been CEO of Sky since 2007, and group chief financial officer before that since 2004. During that time, he has led the transformation of the company into Europe’s largest multi-platform communications and entertainment operator, with nearly 24 million customers.

In the company’s third quarter results in November 2020, Sky was revealed to have continued adding customer relationships at higher prices while reducing churn to all-time lows in core UK business. Sky’s quarterly revenues grew by 5.2% year on year to $4.793bn.

In addition to driving mass profitability and innovation in the former satellite TV provider, Darroch was the driving force of Sky entering the world of communications, launching a mobile telephony offer – evolving to the point of switching on 5G services in 20 leading UK towns and cities in January 2020 – and also launching Sky broadband.

In November 2020, Sky introduced a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service for the UK, just weeks after it announced a strategic partnership with BUUK Infrastructure to obtain wholesale access to full-fibre networks across the country: a move it said would open up new growth in the new-build segment of the UK residential market. The offer has a guaranteed average upload speed of 27Mbps, especially useful for use cases such video conferencing, which is again likely to see a spike after the new lockdown and employees instructed to work at home if they can.

Darroch will be succeeded by Dana Strong, currently president of consumer services for Comcast Cable. Comcast Cable is the largest broadband and pay TV provider in the US with nearly 33 million customer relationships, $58bn revenue and $23bn in EBITDA. Strong has been responsible for Comcast’s largest business and has led innovative new product and market launches in broadband, video, home security and mobile.

During her tenure, the company achieved record subscriber and broadband growth, and the company’s highest levels of customer satisfaction. Strong has more than 25 years of international experience in global telecommunications and media, and deep knowledge of the UK and European markets. Before joining Comcast, she served as president and chief operating officer of Virgin Media in the UK, as well as chief transformation officer of Liberty Global, CEO of UPC Ireland, and COO AUSTAR in Australia.

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Strong will report to Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts, while Darroch will remain as executive chairman through to 2021 to ensure a smooth transition before acting as an advisor to the company.

Commenting on the shake-up, Roberts said: “Sky’s values have been a perfect fit for ours at Comcast and that is very much due to Jeremy. He and his team have built a world-class brand and a strong, well-run business that will continue to flourish.

“Jeremy has been a terrific colleague to me and everyone at Sky, but I respect his decision that now is the time for him to make a change,” he said.

“Dana is an accomplished executive with an extraordinary ability to transform, inspire and drive positive change. Her global experience and vision, coupled with her leadership and track record at some of the largest media and telecommunications companies in the world, make her the perfect leader for Sky.”

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