Smit Leaves Charter for Comcast

Having steered Charter Communications Inc. out of bankruptcy, Neil Smit has resigned his post and will leave on February 28 to become president of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s cable division. (See Charter's Smit Jumps to Comcast .)

Smit, the CEO of Charter since 2005, is heading to Philadelphia to run all the cable operations at Comcast. He will report to former cable division president Steve Burke.

Burke, who says Smit is "the perfect complement to our already strong management team," remains the COO of Comcast and is expected to play a starring role in the MSO's proposed merger with NBC Universal . (See Comcast to Take Control of NBC Universal.)

News that Smit is jumping to Comcast comes less than two months after Charter emerged from a pre-arranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move that shaved $8 billion from the St. Louis-based MSO's debt load. Charter is also applying for a listing of its new common stock on the Nasdaq. (See Charter Leaves Chapter 11 , Charter Exits Chapter 11, and Charter Plan Could Pay Execs $24M.)

Charter has moved quickly to fill the power vacuum, elevating EVP and COO Michael Lovett to interim president and CEO. Charter says it will conduct a national search for a permanent CEO and will consider both internal and external candidates. (See Charter Names Interim Chief.)

"With the completion of our financial restructuring -- and knowing we have a very strong leadership team in place -- this is an excellent time for me to move on to a new opportunity in this dynamic industry, and to watch Charter continue to excel," Smit stated.

That new opportunity will take Smit to the helm of the nation's largest cable operator, which ended the third quarter of 2009 with 23.75 million cable customers. Charter has about 5.5 million customers, making it the fourth-largest U.S. incumbent MSO.

Before joining Charter, Smit was president of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX)'s AOL access business, heading up the AOL, CompuServe, and Netscape ISPs.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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