Jeff Shell fires NBCUniversal at a ‘difficult time’
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts admitted Thursday that the abrupt resignation of NBCUniversal boss Jeff Shell over a sexual harassment complaint filed by CNBC host Hadley Gamble was a “difficult moment” for the media giant.
NBCUniversal is in turmoil after last Sunday’s shocking announcement that 57-year-old Shell had been fired for good reason.
Comcast said he was ousted following a company investigation “led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct.”
His flirtation with Gamble led the CNBC anchor to file a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
“Let me acknowledge the news you all saw earlier this week — obviously a tough time,” Roberts said at the start of Comcast’s first quarter earnings. “But we are so lucky to have a fantastic and solid leadership team at NBCUniversal.”
“If you go down the list, you see that many of them have been leading their divisions within the company for at least 10 years and are truly the best in the business,” added Roberts.
Shares of Comcast rose nearly 8% on Thursday after the company beat Wall Street estimates with reported earnings of $3.83 billion, or 91 cents per share, compared to $3.55 billion, or 78 cents per share, a years earlier.
Roberts announced that Comcast President Mike Cavanagh will serve as the interim head of NBCUniversal following Shell’s departure.
Roberts said the company was “lucky” to have Cavanagh fill the position and that he would play a key role in the company’s future earnings calls.
Cavanagh spoke about his new responsibilities later in the conversation.
“While it is unfortunate to have an unexpected leadership change, I would like to tell you that there is no reason for anyone to think we will review strategy as a result of that in itself,” said Cavanagh.
“Job No. 1 for me is just getting things done and making sure the businesses and the business leaders at NBCU stay focused on the jobs that are at hand. I don’t think the company will miss a beat,” he added.
Shell worked with the company for nearly two decades and was appointed CEO of NBCUniversal in 2020.
“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal,” Shell said in a statement on Sunday. “I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.”
A lawyer for Gamble – a longtime CNBC correspondent – confirmed that her client was behind the complaint that led to Shell’s firing.
“The investigation into Mr. Shell arose from a complaint from my client alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination,” attorney Suzanne McKie, a managing partner of UK-based firm Farore Law, said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
“Given these circumstances, it is very disappointing that my client’s name has been released and her privacy has been violated,” McKie added.
As The Post reported, Gamble, whose relationship with Shell lasted more than a decade until 2019, was also linked to David Bonderman, the billionaire chairman of private equity firm TPG, during the same period.