In a surprise move, Univision Communications announced today that Joe Uva, hired away from OMD four years ago to become president-CEO of the leading U.S. Spanish-language media group, is leaving at the end of this month.
Univision in a statement said Mr. Uva, 55, "has informed the Board of Directors that he has chosen not to renew his employment agreement in order to be able to seek other opportunities." The move comes just two months after Mr. Uva hired former AOL executive Randy Falco as Univision's chief operating officer.
Mr. Uva's current employment contract ends April 2, 2011. Univision said the company will begin a search for a new CEO immediately. Haim Saban, Univision's executive chairman, will take on additional responsibilities until a new CEO is named.
Mr. Uva was president-CEO of OMD when he was hired by Univision's new owners, a private-equity group that acquired Univision in 2007 and included Mr. Saban. As both a buyer and a seller in his career at OMD and Turner Broadcasting Sales, Mr. Uva brought expertise and relationships that Univision needed to capture more of the ad dollars that marketers spend with the English-language networks.
During his four years at Univision, Mr. Uva hired senior sales execs from the general market, starting with Viacom exec David Lawenda as Univision's new president-ad sales in 2007 and most recently Mr. Falco, in January.
Univision grew ad sales and ratings under Mr. Uva. It also resolved long-standing feuds and legal issues with Mexico's Grupo Televisa, Univision's biggest program supplier and a frustrated bidder for the company in 2007. Last October, Televisa agreed to invest $1.2 billion in Univision Communications in a deal that would lead to a substantial minority stake in the U.S. Spanish-language media group and resolve years of legal battles over issues such as royalty payments and U.S. digital rights for the popular telenovelas and other TV shows Televisa supplies to Univision.
In a lunch with Ad Age editors last month, Mr. Uva gave no sign that he was planning to leave and instead talked enthusiastically about the growth of the Spanish-language market and Univision's role as a leader in that market, competing with the English-language networks for Hispanic viewers and ratings .
Univision declined to make Mr. Uva available for an interview.