By Benjamin Mullin and Sahil Patel 

The president of AT&T Inc.'s Xandr is leaving the advertising and analytics unit as it begins to operate more closely with WarnerMedia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Rick Welday, the former chief marketing officer of AT&T's consumer business, has been president of Xandr since 2018. As a lieutenant to Xandr Chief Executive Brian Lesser, Mr. Welday oversees media sales and operations for the advertising and analytics unit. He is expected to take a new role either at AT&T or WarnerMedia, the people said.

Current and former executives at WarnerMedia and Xandr have long expected that the two units would eventually combine, according to the people. Some WarnerMedia ad sales executives have become frustrated that Xandr hasn't delivered more revenue, some of the people said.

WarnerMedia's ad sales team and Xandr are discussing strategies to determine how they can collaborate more effectively, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Lesser until recently reported to AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, but began reporting to John Stankey, the chief executive of WarnerMedia, after Mr. Stankey was named to the additional post of chief operating officer at AT&T earlier this month.

Mr. Welday is a high-profile executive at Xandr, which was launched in 2018 as a stand-alone unit of AT&T encompassing much of the wireless giant's ads business. The company aspires to build a significant business selling highly targeted television advertising, a goal that has historically been elusive for the TV industry.

Mr. Welday's departure from Xandr comes as AT&T is facing pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. to streamline and consolidate its operations. In its letter, Elliott called on AT&T to centralize its spending and tighten its governance.

--Suzanne Vranica contributed to the article.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 20, 2019 17:26 ET (21:26 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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