- - The surprise resignation of Cablevision System Corp's
Rutledge, 58, who was chief operating officer, had seen his responsibilities shrink after AMC Networks
Rutledge, who was paid more than $28 million in 2010, could join the larger St Louis-based Charter Communications
The resignation was unexpected by Wall Street and the company said it has commenced a search for an executive to oversee its cable business, which serves some 3 million subscribers across New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The news also comes just a few weeks after the president of its cable business John Bickham also stepped down.
Analysts at ISI Group downgraded Cablevision to a 'hold' from a 'buy' late on Thursday describing Rutledge's departure as one of the biggest bombshells in recent industry history which has given the stock a higher risk premium.
Cablevision said an experienced senior management would be overseeing cable and its other businesses while it searches for a replacement.
Clearly, there's no one at the company that can run the company beyond Rutledge, said Mario Gabelli, of Gabelli & Co, a long-time major shareholder of Cablevision. Chuck Dolan clearly controls the exit strategy and Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp
Cablevision spokesman Charlie Schueler declined to comment.
A former Time Warner Cable
This is a devastating loss for Cablevision, said Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett. It's his steady hand on the till that has led to Cablevision's spectacular success in competition with Verizon and satellite TV.
Rutledge's departure also comes at a tricky time for Cablevision after it missed Wall Street forecasts in the third quarter as subscriber growth slowed significantly. Its shares are down around 25 percent since August.
In a statement, Cablevision Chief Executive James Dolan said Rutledge had applied a rare combination of technological vision and operational excellence in delivering results.
(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke. Editing by Gunna Dickson)