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McClatchy-Tribune  08/04/2014 6:03 PM ET
Synacor names new CEO [The Buffalo News, N.Y. :: ]

Aug. 04--Synacor Inc. has hired Comcast executive Himesh Bhise as its new chief executive officer, ignoring the demands of dissident shareholders that it not hire a new CEO and instead focus on selling the company.

Bhise joins Synacor after leading Comcast's new services and platforms group, where he was responsible for developing new content platforms for the cable television giant. He also has worked for cable TV company Charter Communications, as wall as AOL and consulting firm McKinsey.

Bhise replaces Ronald Frankel, Synacor's CEO since 2001, who announced in March that he planned to resign as soon as the company found a successor.

"We had specific criteria for our new CEO and we were intensely strategic and deliberate about finding the right person -- Himesh is that person," said Jordan Levy, Synacor's chairman in a statement. "Himesh has a proven ability to set strategy, lead large teams and drive growth and innovation at great scale with success."

The dissident shareholders -- investment firms JEC Capital Partners and Ratio Capital Management -- own a combined stake of 9.8 percent in Synacor and have been pressuring the company since June to halt its CEO search, replace Levy as chairman and put the business up for sale.

Behind the fight over Synacor's future is the company's current financial struggles.

Synacor lost $1.4 million last year as its revenues slid by 8 percent after a change by Microsoft in its Windows 8 operating system relegated the start pages that Synacor operates for its customers to a secondary screen that requires additional clicks for users to access. That led to an 8 percent drop in Synacor's sales, which totaled $112 million last year, with expectations that sales will decline by an additional 11 percent this year, to $100 million.

"I'm confident the company has the assets, customer relationships and, most importantly, the people to overcome today's challenges," Bhise said in the statement, noting that Synacor is at a "pivotal moment" in its history.

Synacor announced Bhise's hiring after the stock market closed today. The company's shares, which have lost more than half their value since selling stock in an initial public offering in February 2012, fell by 3 cents to $2.38.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com

 

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