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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Yahoo names new chief

Internet giant Yahoo has named former Warner Bros chief Terry Semel as its new chairman and chief executive officer.

The appointment ends weeks of uncertainty after longstanding Yahoo chief Tim Koogle said he was stepping down.

Yahoo is a company with incredible potential

Terry Semel
As co-chairman and co-chief exec of Warner Bros, now part of media giant AOL/Time Warner, Mr Semel was recognised as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood.

He takes over at a crucial point in Yahoo's short history as it struggles to cope with a downturn in the US economy and a huge drop in internet advertising.

Koogle's new role

Earlier this month, Yahoo posted an $11.5m first quarter net loss, compared with a profit of $67.6m for the same period last year.

It also said it was cutting 12% of its workforce.

The company has come under increasing pressure to add traditional media expertise to its top management, which has so far been made up mostly of high-tech experts who have had difficulty transforming it from an internet start-up into a global media giant.

The company hopes Mr Semel, who has compared Yahoo to Warner Brothers in 1980, before it expanded into television and other media, will help it to diversify.

Mr Koogle, who will become vice chairman until August and retains a seat on the board, said: "At Warner Bros, Mr Semel proved his ability to grow a business into a global and diversified media company.

"He also has a well-deserved reputation for setting and achieving high standards."

But Mr Semel's appointment received a lukewarm reception on Wall Street, where analysts said they would have preferred someone with expertise in the advertising part of Yahoo's business.

Some also questioned his lack of internet experience.

Big-budget movies

Semel: One of the most powerful figures in Hollywood
Together with his partner Robert Daly, Mr Semel acquired a reputation at Warner Bros for making lavish, big-budget movies with major stars.

The pair's film hits include Chariots of Fire, Unforgiven, Police Academy, Lethal Weapon, The Matrix and Stanley Kubrick's final film Eyes Wide Shut.

The duo also gave the green light to a string of expensive flops prior to their 1999 departure, including Wild Wild West, Lethal Weapon 4 and The Avengers.

However, they are widely credited with turning Warner Bros into one of the world's largest media and entertainment enterprises.

Under Semel and Daly, the company achieved 18 consecutive years of record profits and revenues.

Commenting on his Yahoo appointment, Mr Semel said: "Yahoo is a company with incredible potential.

"Yahoo's management team has rapidly and successfully built an industry-leading global company with the world's largest audience, a strong brand and a talented employee base," he said.

Walt Disney

During Mr Semel's 24 years with Warner Bros, it grew from a single revenue source generating less than $1bn a year to nearly $11bn total revenues from diverse businesses, including television, music and publishing, with interests in 50 countries.

Prior to Warner Bros, he was president of Walt Disney's theatrical distribution division and previously was president of CBS's theatrical distribution division.

Mr Semel has also purchased one million Yahoo shares, the company said.

Yahoo shares closed at $17.62 on the Nasdaq stock market on Monday.

Yahoo president and chief operating officer Jeff Mallett and chief financial officer Susan Decker are to continue in their current roles and will report to Semel, the company said.

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See also:

18 Apr 01 | Business
Profile: Yahoo's Terry Semel
11 Apr 01 | Business
Yahoo's next move
13 Apr 01 | Americas
Yahoo drops porn expansion
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Yahoo losses prompt job cuts
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Yahoo joins online music venture
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