ITV has announced chief executive Adam Crozier is stepping down after seven years in the job.
Shares in the broadcaster fell 2.13 per cent to 206.3p at the open as ITV said Crozier will leave the business on 30 June.
Finance director Ian Griffiths will step up to a newly created combined role of chief operating officer and group finance director, and will also lead the executive team for an interim period, with chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette taking on the role of executive chairman during that time.
The company said it has a "well developed succession plan in place and a longer term successor to Adam will be announced in due course".
"Adam has been talking to me and the board for some time now about his future plans," Bazalgette said.
"He has made a fantastic contribution to ITV and the board is deeply indebted to him for his strong leadership and personal dedication in very successfully turning around the business and building a more global and diversified organisation with real scale in key creative markets around the world."
Crozier said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to lead the transformation of ITV over the past seven years and I know that I will miss this great business and the people who work here.
"However, having spent 21 years as a chief executive across four very different industries, I now feel that the time is right for me to move to the next stage of my career and to build a portfolio of roles across the PLC and private sectors."
What the analysts said
“We do not see the news as sudden in nature nor indicating that ITV is facing major disappointments,” said Liberum media analyst Ian Whittaker. “However we do think this could potentially be a sign that ITV might be heading for a sale.”
Neil Wilson, ETX Capital:
While investors seem a little worried he’s leaving, it’s very hard not to think about a potential takeover and the question facing investors is whether his departure comes as a precursor to a possible bid, or if the ‘well-developed succession plan’ for a long-term successor means the company is staying independent.
As we noted in March, 2017 was going to be make-or-break for ITV as it pivots away from its dependence on cyclical advertising revenues towards being an owner of content.
ITV yesterday announced it was buying a majority stake in Line of Duty producer World Productions.
Additional reporting from William Turvill