Dow Jones CEO's abrupt exit throws strategy into doubt

Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:20am EST
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By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp said Lex Fenwick was leaving as chief executive of Dow Jones, less than two years after taking the helm, an abrupt departure that calls into question the future of its news wires and other products aimed at financial institutions.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which owns Dow Jones, did not explain the departure but said it was reviewing the one-size-fits-all strategy Fenwick had put in place for its news wires and other products. The bundled product offering that resulted, known as DJX, alienated some of the banks, hedge funds and retail brokers that were its main customers because of its rigid pricing structure.

"We're reviewing the institutional strategy of Dow Jones with an eye towards changes that will deliver even more value to its customers," News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said in a statement on Tuesday.

News Corp said that William Lewis will take over as interim CEO. Lewis worked at News Corp's British newspaper unit and the Financial Times.

Fenwick, 54, was appointed CEO of Dow Jones - publisher of The Wall Street Journal - in February 2012 after more than two decades at Bloomberg LP and did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

He was seen by some as a controversial leader, known for his hard-charging style and expletive-laced outbursts, who was tasked with overhauling Dow Jones' institutional business. Following his arrival, a significant number of senior executives left the company.

People familiar with Dow Jones said that Fenwick staked Dow Jones' turnaround on a product that was supposed to challenge Bloomberg as one of the dominant suppliers of financial news and data. Known as DJX, it essentially pulled all of Dow Jones offerings like news database Factiva and the real-time news wires on a single platform for one price.

It was a risky move: customers were used to cherry-picking from Dow Jones' lineup of products and negotiating on price - a matter where Fenwick was unbending, taking a page from his former employer, where refusing to discount has paid off.   Continued...

CEO of Dow Jones, Lex Fenwick speaks during an interview in his New York offices July 20, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid