WideOpenWest announced Thursday that industry vet Teresa Elder has been named CEO and has joined the board of the competitive cable operator.
She succeeds Steven Cochran, who is retiring from WOW following 15 years with the company. Cochran wills stay on in an advisory role through June 30, 2018, to help with the transition.
Elder was the founding president of Clearwire Wholesale (sold to Sprint) and, before that, was CEO of Vodafone Ireland and president of AT&T Broadband West (now part of Comcast). She is also late of MediaOne (Comcast today), US West (now part of CenturyLink).
WOW, which has been aggressive with its DOCSIS 3.1 deployment, went public in May.
WOW this week also announced it has closed its sale of a portion of its fiber network in the Chicago market to a unit of Verizon for $225 million in cash, which will be used to help pay down existing debt related to WOW’s revolving credit agreement and to reinvest in its business.
Tied in, WOW and Verizon inked a new construction deal in which WOW will complete the build-out of the network in exchange for about $50 million, payable as the remaining network deployment is completed. The final buildout of the network is slated for completion in the second half of 2018.
WOW’s board has also authorized a stock repurchase program that will enable the company to repurchase an aggregate of $50 million of its outstanding common stock. That program is expected to be executed over the next 12 months.
“We are delighted that Teresa Elder has joined WOW! as CEO,” Jeff Marcus, chairman of the board of WOW, said in a statement. “She is a highly experienced executive with a demonstrated track record of operational success within the tech, telecom and cable industries. Her passion for building businesses and her knack for innovation, make Teresa the ideal executive to lead our company forward.”
He added: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Steven for his years of service to the Company, first as CFO and most recently as CEO. Steven has worked tirelessly to position the Company for long-term success.”
“It is truly an honor to join WOW!’s talented team,” Elder said. “With our entrepreneurial spirit, very competitive gigabit speeds and strong balance sheet, we are uniquely positioned for the future. I look forward to working with the WOW! team to deliver exceptional experiences to our customers, growth to our shareholders and a great workplace for employees. In the days and months to come, I will be working closely with our team and Board to craft and then implement a business strategy, grounded in operational excellence and innovation, thereby empowering WOW! to reach its full potential – for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity to have led such an extraordinary organization, and to have been a part of the WOW! family for more than 15 years,” Cochran said. “I wish my colleagues all the best and look forward to ensuring a seamless transition to Teresa, who I firmly believe will thrive in the position.”
Elder is also chair of the management board at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and was recently elected to the board of trustees of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation following years as a national committee member, public policy advocate and fundraiser for the foundation.
She earned a BS in Business Administration from Creighton University and a MS in Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where she was a Sloan Fellow and Class President.