ITV has confirmed the appointment of Carolyn McCall as its first female chief executive.
McCall joins ITV from easyJet, where she has been chief executive for seven years. She was previously chief executive of the Guardian Media Group (GMG), publisher of the Guardian and Observer.
She will join the broadcaster on 8 January, replacing Adam Crozier, who left the company at the end of June.
The ITV chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former chairman and creative chief of Big Brother-maker Endemol, had been keen to replace him with a successor with serious experience at a publicly listed company.
McCall has been appointed from a final shortlist of three that included Paul Geddes, the Direct Line chief and Channel 4 board member, and the Dixons Carphone boss, Sebastian James.
McCall was chosen as preferred candidate at the end of last month. Since then negotiations to secure her appointment are understood to have centred on issues including her remuneration.
ITV said her total remuneration would be “broadly the same” as Crozier, who earned about £27m over his seven years in charge. This is slightly less than the £30m McCall earned from starting at easyJet in 2010 to the end of the airline’s financial year in September.
The broadcaster is paying McCall a base salary of £900,000, £41,000 less than Crozier, and her pension allowance has been reduced to 15% of her salary compared with her predecessor’s 25%.
However, under the performance share plan McCall will be eligible for 265% of salary, while Crozier was awarded 225%. The existing annual bonus of up to 180% of salary remains the same.
The remuneration structure is in line with a change voted through at ITV’s annual meeting in May to put more emphasis on the longer-term performance of the business through a five-year share award scheme.
McCall has negotiated a slightly sweeter deal than the one she had at easyJet. Her base pay is almost £200,000 higher, her pension allowance is double and the performance share plan award is better. Only her annual bonus maximum, at 200% of salary at easyJet, is slightly lower in her new role.
ITV, with a £7bn market capitalisation, is about 25% bigger than easyJet.
The broadcaster is giving McCall a golden handshake of awards to cover the estimated £5m in share awards, at today’s share price, at easyJet she will have to forfeit. The exact value of those share awards will not be known until they vest in the coming three years.
McCall said she already missed easyJet – which suffered a share price slump and sharp fall in profits last year, its first decline in six years, and is due to open a European HQ to operate EU flights post-Brexit – but said the ITV opportunity “felt like the right one to take”.
“This was a really difficult decision for me to make,” she told easyJet investors in a stock market statement. “After seven years, the opportunity from ITV felt like the right one to take. It is a fantastic company in a dynamic and stimulating sector. EasyJet is a structural winner in a brilliant position, and I look forward to being a loyal customer in the years to come.”
McCall, 55, was appointed a dame for services to the aviation industry last year.
ITV’s share price received a 2% bump in early trading on Monday as investors took a shine to McCall’s transition from airlines to airwaves.
“We view this appointment as positive,” said Tamsin Garrity, an equity analyst at Jefferies. “McCall has an understanding of the commercial side of the business, which complements a creative chairman at ITV, and has weathered some tougher times at easyJet while trebling the share price.”
McCall, a mother of three who was brought up in India and Singapore, joins as ITV faces headwinds from a slump in the TV ad market and the stalling of ITV Studios, which makes shows including Coronation Street, Come Dine With Me, Victoria and Poldark.
McCall joined GMG in 1986 and rose through the commercial ranks to become chief executive of the newspaper business, Guardian News & Media, in 2000 and of the parent company in 2006.
“This provides solid media experience in the world of advertising, which remains the majority of ITV’s revenue,” said Garrity.
During her GMG tenure McCall was responsible for overseeing the move of the Guardian from a broadsheet format to the Berliner, and was responsible for the sale of its regional newspaper arm, which included the Manchester Evening News.
McCall was also active in the sale of a stake in Trader Media Group, parent of AutoTrader, to Apax for £675m, and acquiring Emap’s business-to-business magazine and events arm, which included the Cannes Lions advertising festival, alongside Apax for £1bn.
She is also a non-executive director at Burberry, where last week a third of shareholders failed to back the luxury brand’s remuneration report in a protest over high pay. She has previously held non-executive director roles at Lloyds TSB, Tesco and New Look.
“In a very impressive field of high-calibre candidates, Carolyn stood out for her track record in media, experience of an international operation, clear strategic acumen and strong record of delivering value to shareholders,” said Bazalgette. “I’m delighted we’ll be working together at ITV.”