Tom Mockridge, the News International chief executive who took over from Rebekah Brooks following her resignation last year, is to leave the company next month.
Parent company News Corp announced that Mockridge, who has worked at the company since 1991, was stepping down to “pursue outside opportunities”.
His departure comes ahead of a company restructure that will see News Corp split into two companies: one covering newspaper and book publishing and the over encompassing its entertainment business.
It was widely reported (BBC, Guardian, Daily Telegraph) this morning that former Times editor Robert Thomson, currently managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor-in-chief of Dow Jones, will be appointed chief executive of the new business, suggesting Mockridge was overlooked despite being an initial favourite for the role.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, said: “For nearly 22 years, it has been my pleasure to have Tom Mockridge as a colleague.
“Whether it was his early days with our newspaper group in Australia, his incredible work building Sky Italia, or his steadfast leadership of News International, Tom has always been a skilled executive and a trusted friend.
“His decision to step down is absolutely and entirely his own. I am sorry to see him leave us but I know he will be a great success wherever he goes.”
Mockridge, who started his career as a newspaper journalist in New Zealand, joined News Limited in Australia in 1991 and was chief executive of the Foxtel TV network from 1997 to 2000.
He later moved to Star TV, then headed up the company’s newspaper business in New Zealand, before moving to Italy in 2002 to create Sky Italia. He was also chief executive of the company’s European television division before moving to the UK in July 2011.