Tom Rutledge, chief operating officer of Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp., will resign later this month, according to a news release from the company Thursday.
The news brought Cablevision’s stock price its biggest drop in seven weeks—down 13 percent in early trading Friday; from $13.93 to $12.08—and slid shares to $12.75 by Friday afternoon, their lowest since March 2009 when stocks hit $10.35 per share.
Cablevision stock is down from its high of $37.72 per share for the year, which it reached on Feb. 14.
Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, told The Wall Street Journal the loss of Rutledge was a “devastating blow,” and Bloomberg News it was “staggering… Tom Rutledge is the hands-down-best executive in the cable business.”
Other media outlets speculated what the departure would mean for the cable TV giant. A Bloomberg Businessweek article Friday suggested the company may try to go private or seek a buyer following the resignation.
Rutledge, 58, joined Cablevision in 2002 as the company’s president of cable and communications, said the company. He became chief operating officer in 2004, assuming additional responsibilities for Cablevision’s Rainbow Media, now a separate public company called AMC Networks, Local Media properties including Newsday and other businesses and administrative functions, it added.
“Everything I hoped for when I came to Cablevision has come true. I am proud of our record of success, and of the strong leadership team that remains in place to continue this work,” Rutledge said in a statement. “I have spent my entire working life—34 years—in the cable industry, but my decade at Cablevision will always stand out because of the things we were able to achieve and the value we were able to deliver to customers in the most competitive market in the nation.”
“Tom Rutledge has played a key role in driving and shaping Cablevision’s success over the last decade, applying a rare combination of technological vision and operational excellence that has delivered results. We are enormously thankful for his time here,” added James Dolan, Cablevision’s president and chief executive officer, in the same statement.