Gabby Lopez retires as chair of ABS-CBN Corp.
Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III has retired from the role of being the longtime chair of media giant ABS-CBN Corp., ending an era that spanned over two decades.
Lopez, who nominated his cousin Mark Lopez to take his place as company chair, will instead assume the title of chairman emeritus, and will stay on as a director of ABS-CBN.
On Thursday, he told shareholders during the company’s annual meeting that he would continue to provide “consultative” guidance to the board.
The elder Lopez, who has helmed ABS-CBN as chair since 1997, was credited with growing the company into the news and entertainment conglomerate that it is today.
It was also during his tenure when ABS-CBN embarked on an ambitious diversification plan, which included its entry into broadband Internet via SkyCable, and the launch of digital television.
During his speech to shareholders, the elder Lopez emphasized the need for younger figures in top management to lead ABS-CBN.
“The demographic profile of the Philippines has always been biased toward the youth. Who better to asses the needs of our audience than like-minded young managers,” Lopez, who turned 65 last August, said on Thursday.
“Today’s digital world is vastly different from the world I managed,” he added.
Mark Lopez is 45 years old while company CEO Carlo Katigbak is turning 48 this month.
The elder Lopez noted that Mark Lopez’s role was envisioned to be mainly “a fiduciary responsibility.”
Mark Lopez has been with ABS-CBN for seven years. He is the media giant’s chief technology officer. A key initiative of his was the company’s system modernization, which included moving key functions to the cloud, and automating content creation and delivery. He also had a direct hand in ABS-CBN’s shift to digital television.
Before joining ABS-CBN, he worked for 13 years in Manila Electric Co., where he rose to the rank of vice president and chief information officer.
In its statement, ABS-CBN signaled that the elder Lopez’s decision to step down was not related to the current political environment, and was on account of previously set succession planning terms.
ABS-CBN said Mark Lopez was “identified as a successor as early as five years ago.”
ABS-CBN, alongside other media groups, has earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for critical news reporting.
A separate issue dating back to the presidential campaign over ABS-CBN’s failure to air Mr. Duterte’s political ads further strained relations.
Last year, Mr. Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which expires in 2020.
During ABS-CBN’s previous annual meeting, the elder Lopez, whose father was jailed during the marital law regime of the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, downplayed those concerns. He said the threats were “part and parcel of our work being a media institution.”
“We will comply with all the requirements associated with the renewal of our franchise and we hope to participate in the renewal process,” Kane Choa, ABS-CBN head of communications, said on Thursday.
Toward the end of his retirement speech, the elder Lopez said he would continue to work and “not disappear into the woodwork.”
“I may be retired but I am not dead,” he quipped. “At the end of the day, I can also take time out to just relax and watch the grass grow. Nobody who knows me will ever believe that is what I will do.”
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