06/22/2007 12:00AM

Magna CEO leaves post held since February


Neuman, the former president and chief operating officer of the satellite-television company Echostar, was hired by Magna in late February, becoming the sixth chief executive officer for Magna since the company was founded in 1998.

It was unclear in the announcement if Neuman had resigned or been fired. Magna officials did not immediately return phone calls on Friday.

During Neuman's short tenure, Magna reached an agreement with Churchill Downs Inc. on a partnership to sell and buy simulcast signals in which Churchill also purchased a half-interest in Magna's struggling television network, Horse Racing TV. Magna also reached agreements to sell some of its properties during his time at the head of the company, including San Luis Rey Downs, a training center in California.

Recently, Neuman wrote a letter to the city council of Arcadia, Calif., stating that Magna did not intend to make improvements to the backside of one of its racetracks, Santa Anita Park. The letter was widely criticized by members of the California Horse Racing Board who believed that Magna was going back on a promise the company had made to invest in the barn area at the track.

This week, Stronach appeared before the racing board to assure the regulators that Magna intended to invest $24 million in improvements to Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita, which includes renovations on Santa Anita's backside. Neuman, Stronach said at the meeting, "has been very much reprimanded."