Lord Rothermere to become chief executive of Daily Mail publisher

The chief executive of the Daily Mail publisher has resigned and is to be replaced by Lord Rothermere, the great-grandson of the newspaper’s founder, who is taking day-to-day charge of the company after he took it private earlier this year.

Paul Zwillenberg, who has run Daily Mail and General Trust since 2016 and led efforts to refocus the group on consumer media, is to step down from the DMGT board at the end of the month. He is to stay on as an adviser.

Jonathan Harmsworth, the fourth Viscount Rothermere, who is the company’s chair, will become chief executive.

The boardroom reshuffle comes after the family bought the company for £2.4bn, despite opposition from some prominent institutional investors. DMGT was delisted from the London Stock Exchange in January after 90 years as a public company.

Zwillenberg had co-ordinated a reorganisation of DMGT through a series of deals, including disposals of insurance risk modelling business RMS, education operation Hobsons and energy data specialist Genscape.

The company also distributed its stake in financial publisher Euromoney to shareholders and acquired the i newspaper as well as New Scientist magazine.

In a memo to staff on Thursday, Rothermere said: “I am immensely grateful to Paul for everything that he has done over the past six-and-a-half years.

“The fact that we are now masters of our own destiny, having taken the company private at the beginning of this year, and have a bright future to look forward to is in large part thanks to him.”

He added that he would be “meeting with our senior leaders to discuss next steps and new ways of working”.

In his own memo, Zwillenberg, a former consultant at Boston Consulting Group, said that “the time is right to step down”.

“An inevitable consequence of the strategy we put in place six-and-a-half years ago, if it was successful, was that I would work myself out
of a job,” he said.

“We have transformed the group from top to bottom, setting it up for long-term success,” he added.

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