Hulu International Chief Quits Ahead of Potential Sale

Hulu LLC’s Johannes Larcher resigned as head of international operations for the online video service, whose owners are weighing offers for the company.

Larcher, a senior vice president who led Hulu’s 2011 expansion into Japan, resigned this month, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Hulu hasn’t started service in any other countries outside the U.S.

Hulu is losing senior executives as the company’s owners, including Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and News Corp. (NWSA), move forward with an auction. Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Jason Kilar and Rich Tom, Hulu’s chief technology officer, left at the end of March. Last week Hulu received bids from at least seven suitors including private equity firm KKR & Co. (KKR), media executive Peter Chernin and Yahoo! Inc., people said at the time.

Disney and News Corp., the controlling shareholders, each with about a third of Hulu, are considering offers while also deliberating whether one company should buy out the other.

Andy Forssell, the company’s senior vice president of content, has been acting CEO since Kilar’s departure.

Larcher, a Fulbright Scholar, led the expansion of Overture Services into 12 countries in Europe and Asia before the search engine’s 2003 acquisition by Yahoo, according to an executive biography on Hulu’s website.

Hulu’s service in Japan quadrupled the amount of content available last year, the company said in a blog post in December. The company’s service in that country, accessible from more than 50 million Web-connected devices, drew three times the volume of subscribers last year compared with 2011, the company said.

Netflix Lag

Hulu’s revenue climbed 65 percent in 2012 to about $695 million. The company said it has more than 4 million paying subscribers to its $8 a month service, according to a blog post. Hulu lags behind Netflix Inc. (NFLX)’s 36.3 million worldwide streaming subscribers and faces competition from Amazon.com Inc. and Redbox Instant, an online video service from Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Coinstar Inc.

Formed by NBC Universal and Fox, Hulu offers viewers TV shows online with fewer commercials. Disney became an investor in 2009. Hulu Plus, started in 2010, offers more shows and includes access on mobile devices, Web-linked TV sets and video-game consoles.

NBC parent Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) is barred from an operational or board role under an agreement with federal regulators related to its NBC Universal acquisition in January 2011.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net; Douglas MacMillan in San Francisco at dmacmillan3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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