NBCUniversal's Burke names investment banker to top financial post
NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke on Wednesday put the finishing touches on his senior management team by announcing that Stuart J. Epstein -- former managing director of Morgan Stanley and global head of the firm's media group -- would become chief financial officer for the entertainment giant in mid-October.
Epstein has been a strategic advisor to Comcast Corp. for several years, NBCUniversal said in a news release, adding that he played "a key role" in the merger finalized earlier this year between Comcast's entertainment properties and NBCUniversal.
Epstein will take over for Lynn Calpeter, a trusted ally of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Calpeter, who got her start at GE 18 years ago in GE Plastics, had served as NBC's top financial officer for eight years. She returned to Fairfield, Conn., in July to become GE Energy's CFO.
Calpeter was one of the few GE executives who survived the early exodus of senior officers at NBCUniversal when Comcast took control in late January. Other GE favorites, including former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, television chief Jeff Gaspin, human resources chief Marc Chini, advertising sales chief Mike Pilot, international chief Peter Smith and communications head Allison Gollust, were quickly shown the door.
NBC's former sports chairman, Dick Ebersol, abruptly left in May after he and Burke failed to agree on a new contract although he has since returned as a consultant. Other prominent springtime departures included former diversity chief Paula Madison (who previously served as general manager of KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Los Angeles), and media works chief John Eck, who had worked at GE Capital and the GE aircraft engines division before joining NBC.
Comcast owns 51% of the joint venture while GE holds 49%. GE eventually intends to cash in the media company that it has owned for 25 years.
This wasn't the first time Burke recruited a longtime Comcast advisor from the business world to fill a senior-level role. He hired Adam Miller, former president of public relations firm Abernathy MacGregor Group, as head of corporate affairs and communications for NBCUniversal.
-- Meg James
Photo of NBC's West Coast offices in Burbank; Credit David McNew /Getty Images