Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen is returning to the corner office of the company he founded to focus on strategy and acquisitions. Fred Katayama reports.
Charlie Ergen is coming back to the driver's seat at Dish Network. The 61-year-old billionaire chairman who co-founded the satellite pay-TV operator will replace 65-year-old Joe Clayton as CEO next month. Ergen had left the corner office nearly four years ago to focus on long-term strategy and acquisitions. Wells Fargo senior analyst Marci Ryvicker said, "We aren't surprised given his (Clayton's) age and tenure." Ergen has been betting big on the wireless business, buying up spectrum even though Dish lacks a mobile phone network. That, along with its launch of a video streaming service last month, are aimed at offsetting the decline in its core pay-TV business, Dish shed nearly double the number of subscribers than expected in the latest quarter. Analysts say many subscribers fled to rival DirecTV amid Dish's nasty carriage dispute with Fox News. Dish's overall quarterly revenue rose less than expected. Macquarie senior analyst Amy Yong said, "Joe Clayton got the fundamentals of the core pay TV business in the right direction. Now that Charlie Ergen has the spectrum, it's a perfect time for him to reclaim the seat as CEO and move the company forward. He'll move it strategically along." The big question on investors' minds: what will Ergen do with all the spectrum he has bought. Dish's shares have risen 37 percent over the past 12 months, but Evercore ISI says the market still hasn't fully valued those licenses.