Cablevision Systems Corp.'s chief operating officer,
Robert P. May, resigned last week after 15 months on the job, in a move that is seen as
strengthening the heads of the MSO's operating divisions.
May, who signed on in October 1996 after a career at
Federal Express Corp. and another air-freight carrier, said he wanted to 'move on to
different opportunities' after helping the company to resolve difficulties that saw
its stock price ebb into the low $30s. He will also step down as a company director, a
A series of transactions -- including buying Madison Square
Garden and agreeing to buy Tele-Communications Inc.'s New York-area cable systems --
have reshaped the company since then. Cablevision's stock price closed at $93.25 last
Monday, the day that May's resignation was announced -- up $1.44 per share.
Also last Monday, after the markets closed, Cablevision
announced a two-for-one stock split in the form of a special stock distribution timed in
connection with the TCI deal. Cablevision is buying the systems and about 820,000
subscribers with 12.2 million newly issued Cablevision shares. The split will be based on
that larger base of outstanding shares.
The TCI deal was announced in June and approved by the
Federal Trade Commission Jan. 16, and it is expected to close by the end of February.
The split is a reflection of the stock price run-up, and it
was welcomed by analysts, who said it should make Cablevision shares more liquid and
protect against big price changes hinging on relatively small orders.
Cablevision CEO James Dolan, in a statement on May's
resignation, called May 'a key member of Cablevision's management team during a
period of strong financial performance and dramatic transformation. Today, a new
Cablevision is emerging, and with it come changing demands in both strategy and management
structure. Bob has done fine work to help prepare us for that change.'
Analysts did not view May's departure as a major
'I don't see it as having a huge impact on the
company,' said Richard Read of Arnhold & S. Bleichroeder.
When May came on, the company said his first priority would
be to get internal systems into shape. Cablevision is in good form now, Read said.
'Their costs are under control,' he said. 'Their marketing has
Cablevision officials indicated that they won't be
looking for a replacement as COO. Instead, division heads, such as Rainbow Media Holdings
Inc. CEO Josh Sapan or Madison Square Garden CEO Dave Checketts, will report to 'the
office of the CEO.' That means Dolan, but it also includes vice chairmen Marc
Lustgarten and William Bell, executive vice president Robert Lemle and chairman Charles
The Woodbury, N.Y.-based MSO has functioned without a COO
for long periods in the recent past. The job was unfilled for two-and-a-half years before
Dolan hired May.