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Gavin steps down as BBC Worldwide CEO amid sale talk

LONDON - Rupert Gavin is standing down as chief executive officer of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, amid reports that the corporation is considering selling the division.

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The BBC is currently reviewing all of its commercial operations and there have been strong suggestions that the new director-general, Mark Thompson, is actively considering a sale of BBC Worldwide, which sells the corporation's programmes around the world, as well as housing the magazine publishing division and other related merchandise such as books, DVDs and music. The sale could net as much as £1bn for the BBC.

Gavin has headed the division for six years, after joining from BT in 1998. In that time, the BBC's global media exports, including the smash hit comedy 'The Office' and the children's programme 'Teletubbies', have risen by 96%.

Gavin said: "In the last seven years, the Worldwide team have continued to hit targets, generating over £704m for the BBC's public services. It has a strong future and it feels like the right time to make this move."

In a statement today, Thompson said that under Gavin's leadership "the company has maximised the value of BBC assets, bringing benefit to licence payers, and has successfully grown the BBC name around the world".

John Smith, chief executive officer of the BBC and the man conducting the review into the BBC's commercial businesses, will oversee BBC Worldwide in the immediate future, while Gavin will assist on handover issues until he leaves in October.

Before joining the BBC, Gavin was director of information, communications and entertainment at BT, and then promoted to director of multimedia services. In 1997, he was made managing director of BT's consumer division.

He joined BT in 1994 from Dixons, where he was deputy managing director, but started his career as an advertising copywriter in the mid-1970s.

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