In a shock move, Liberty Livewire president and chief executive Robert Walston has left the US facilities giant that owns London's 4MC, Rushes, SVC and Soho 601 - 'to pursue other interests', writes Barbara Marshall
Chairman William Fitzgerald has assumed the role of acting chief executive and, according to a statement, will expand his involvement in the strategic direction and daily operations of Liberty Livewire 'for the foreseeable future'.Although the reasons for Walston's sudden departure are not known, Fitzgerald said in a statement that after spending the last year integrating the companies acquired by the group, he was 'anxious to pursue an effort to raise awareness of Liberty Livewire and the value it brings to content creators and providers'.Walston himself raised this concern with Broadcast last year when he said he feared Liberty Livewire did not have an identity and that it seemed 'soul-less'.In an internal memo to staff seen by Broadcast, Fitzgerald listed 'increasing Liberty Livewire's visibility' as one of his priorities but also cited co-ordinating the efforts of the companies within the group and aligning more closely with parent company Liberty Media.He also listed improving the financial and operational performance of the group, which lost $436.3m (£299.4m) in the year ended 31 December 2001 on a turnover of $592.7m (£406.7m). This compared with a loss of $11.5m (£7.9m) in the previous year when Liberty Livewire was formed following a merger between Todd-AO and fellow US giant Four Media Company, originally founded by Walston.