Seven CEO Warburton exits early following controversies

Seven West chief executive James Warburton has jumped ship early after a scandal-plagued tenure in which the media conglomerate lurched from one PR disaster to the next.

Mr Warburton announced his intention last year to step down from the role he has held for half a decade.

His departure was slated for the middle of 2024.

But after a string of controversies to hit the organisation, culminating in deeply embarrassing revelations surrounding payments made to Bruce Lehrmann, the former V8 Supercars chief announced his immediate resignation following a board meeting on Thursday afternoon.

He will be replaced by chief financial officer Jeff Howard, who steps into the role on Friday.

In a statement to the ASX, chairman Kerry Stokes and Mr Howard thanked Mr Warburton for "his contribution to the business over many years".

Mr Warburton oversaw an eventful period for Seven West, in which the company secured long-term cricket and AFL broadcast deals and the acquisition of regional TV network Prime in 2021.

But the group has faced falling revenues amid a structural decline across the media industry, and more recently has suffered reputational fallout from its Spotlight show on Lehrmann and backing Ben Roberts-Smith in a disastrous defamation case.

The company continues to search for a new CFO, with Craig Haskins deputising in the role for now.

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