Exclusive: Anchor Karen Gibbs Leaving CNBC for Fox News

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By Cory Johnson
Staff Reporter

CNBC

suffered yet another defection Tuesday when

Karen Gibbs

-- the popular anchor with a skunk patch of white hair and an insider's view of the credit markets -- left to go to the

Fox News Channel

. Gibbs, whose last day at

CNBC

was Tuesday, will join her former colleague

Neil Cavuto

, who left

CNBC

in July of last year. She will serve as a business correspondent contributing to

The Cavuto Business Report

and will also appear as a panelist on the network's weekend financial program

Cavuto on Business

.

At

CNBC

, Gibbs specialized in covering the credit and futures markets, as well as anchoring, hosting

Money Wheel

and

Minding Your Business

. She's worked at

CNBC

for five years, and colleagues say that, while she chose to leave as her contract expired, she was sad nonetheless. "She's a little upset," said one

CNBC

staffer who asked not to be named. "She's been here a long time, and so it's hard for her to go."

Gibbs has an incredible resume. In 1970, she became the first woman to work on the floor of the

Chicago Board of Trade

. She got an MBA in finance and marketing at the

University of Chicago

, and sold government securities at

Harris Trust & Savings Bank

in Chicago. After that, she went on to

Dean Witter

, where she worked for nine years and rose to the position of vice president and senior futures analyst. Gibbs then made the tremendous leap to become

CNBC's

first African-American anchor. "She has a rare talent of explaining the nuances of the commodities market without talking over everyone's head," says Cavuto, who serves as anchor and managing editor of

Fox Business News

. "It's almost a rule of thumb in business news to talk like the smartest kid in the class. But Karen makes it all clear and understandable. 'Talent' gets the rap for being bubbleheaded, but Karen flies in the face of that."

Some insiders wonder why Gibbs would jump from

CNBC

, where she was well-liked and reaching some 130 million subscribers worldwide, to the struggling

Fox News Channel

, which is limping along with just 21 million subscribers -- and none in the New York financial community, where Gibbs has her largest following. "Certainly the potential for exposure is less, based on distribution," says a

CNBC

spokesman. "She made it very clear to us that she enjoyed being a part of the premier financial network. She certainly has a lot of friends here, and we're gonna miss her a lot."

Fox

has had some success with stealing away talent from

CNBC

, first with Cavuto, then with Emmy Award-winning reporter

Lisa Castleman

. Industry sources say that

Fox

has been aggressively pursing

CNBC

talent with rich salaries, but Cavuto demurs, suggesting that it's not all about money, even in business journalism.

"She could have had the same amount of money working for

CNBC

," says Cavuto. "But the driving force for each of us is to do something different, something driving and building. I think she's always been itching to do things differently, and go beyond what has been done traditionally in business journalism. Hopefully you'll be able to see it in New York someday."

Gibbs was unavailable for comment.