DirecTV Group Inc said on Wednesday it will appoint PepsiCo Inc
executive Michael White as its new chief executive starting on January 1.

White's appointment brings to an end a six-month hunt for a replacement for Chase Carey, who left DirecTV to return to News Corp as No. 2 to Rupert Murdoch.

White, a 20-year veteran of Pepsi, said in September he would retire later this year from his position as CEO of PepsiCo International and vice chairman of PepsiCo. He will also join DirecTV's board.

DirecTV has been run for the last six months by interim chief executive Larry Hunter.

Among White's first tasks will be to oversee the integration of the newly independent and larger company which will be split off from its parent Liberty Media Corp tomorrow should shareholders vote to approve a proposal to do so. Liberty Media is controlled by media mogul John Malone.

Under the proposed transaction DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV operator, is to be combined with Liberty Entertainment, whose assets include FUN Technologies, Game Show Network and three regional sports networks.

White will also be expected to manage the important marketing relationship with phone company partners AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc . Both companies distribute DirecTV's video as part of bundle that includes phone and Internet services.

The marketing relationship has often led to the expectation that one of the phone companies will eventually bid for ownership of DirecTV.

Malone said last month at Liberty investor day that a close and long-lasting relationship with the telcos in the US is certainly a very important part of any (DirecTV) CEO's job.

And whether that involves a transaction or merely an extension of the bundling relationships, broadening and deepening that to include wireless, I think is going to be a very important part of the CEO's job.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)