About four months after former president and chief operating officer Kim Kelly resigned — touching off a management shuffle that left Insight Communications Co. without a permanent chief financial officer — the New York-based MSO has hired a former Morgan Stanley investment banker to fill that role.
John Abbot was named as the MSO's new senior vice president and chief financial officer last Tuesday
Kelly left Insight in August for personal reasons and was later replaced by CFO Dinni Jain. He was named executive vice president and COO in October, as Insight CEO Michael Willner assumed Kelly's president role. Jain, who joined Insight from United Kingdom cable operator NTL Inc., also held CFO responsibilities while Insight looked for a permanent replacement.
The search was concluded with the hiring of Abbot, who had been managing director of the Global Media and Communications Group of the Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley.
In his new role, effective Jan. 18, Abbot will have responsibility for financial reporting, interfacing with the financial community and running the capital budget and long-term planning processes. He will also oversee the negotiation and execution of mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, as well as cable property purchases and swaps.
He will be based in Insight's New York office and report to Willner.
"This year promises to be a pivotal one for our company, and John's background and expertise in corporate finance and investment banking will be a particularly valuable asset as we continue to maintain our focus on operations, reduce costs and achieve positive free cash flow," Willner said in a statement. "In addition, we have worked with John and his team at Morgan Stanley for many years now and have a particular appreciation for his extraordinary abilities."
Insight had a disappointing year in 2003 — although fourth-quarter results have not yet been released, it lost about 15,000 subscribers over the first nine months, mostly to satellite competition. Insight has vowed in 2004 to renew its focus on customer retention and marketing — two of Jain's fortes when he was at NTL — to win back subscribers and grow results. Insight has estimated that revenue will rise 11% and operating cash flow will increase 10% in 2004.