Gabby Lopez steps down; cousin Mark taking over
Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III yesterday announced his retirement as ABS-CBN Corp. chair, an influential role that allowed him to define the entertainment and news experiences of millions of Filipinos over the last two decades.
During the media giant’s annual stockholders’ meeting, Lopez nominated his younger cousin Mark Lopez to take his place as ABS-CBN chair.
He will assume the title of chair emeritus and will stay on as a director of ABS-CBN. He told shareholders he would continue to provide “consultative” guidance to the board.
The elder Lopez, who served as ABS-CBN chair since 1997, is credited with growing the company into the media conglomerate that it is today.
It was also during his tenure when ABS-CBN embarked on an ambitious diversification program that included its entry into broadband internet via SkyCable and the launch of digital television.
His cousin, ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak, described him on Thursday as the “one constant” over the last 21 years, helping transform the company from a radio and TV network “into a truly diversified multimedia and content company.”
During his speech, 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 can asses better the needs of our audience than like-minded young managers,” Lopez, who turned 65 last August, said.
“Today’s digital world is vastly different from the world I managed,” he added.
Mark Lopez is 45 years old while 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. His role in the media giant was that of 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 a statement, ABS-CBN said Gabby Lopez’s decision to step down was not related to the current political environment and was on account of previously set succession planning terms.
It said Mark Lopez was “identified as a successor as early as five years ago.”
ABS-CBN is one of the media groups that earned the ire of President Duterte for critical new 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 stockholders’ meeting, Lopez, whose father was jailed during the martial law, downplayed those concerns, saying 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 yesterday.
Toward the end of his retirement speech, 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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