It's Official: Parsons Quitting Time Warner
As expected, Dick Parsons will step down as chief executive of Time Warner Inc. at the end of the year but remain as chairman. On January 1, the company said, Parsons will hand over the CEO job to Jeffrey Bewkes, currently president and chief operating officer. The leadership change occurs at a difficult time for the company, which, under Parsons, has struggled to overcome the near disaster that occurred in 2001, at the height of the Internet bubble, when AOL acquired the company. Parsons took over the following year and has been credited for its rescue, but it has made little progress -- or even much effort -- towards expanding, and its stock hovers around the same price it went for at the time Parsons became CEO -- about $18. Last year Parsons waged a successful defense against corporate raider Carl Icahn, who had called for the break-up of the giant media conglomerate along the lines of its main divisions: cable (Time Warner cable), movie/TV (Warner Bros., New Line, HBO, Turner Broadcasting), publishing (Time Inc.), and Internet (AOL). Analysts have speculated that Bewkes would be less resistant to restructuring and predicted that he will likely sell off Time Warner Cable and do the same with AOL or combine it with another major Internet company. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) Wall Street Journal Bewkes would only say, "Everything is on the table." However, today's New York Times commented that there are "perils" connected with major restructuring. "Together, cable and AOL represent more than half the company's value," the newspaper observed, "and without them Time Warner could end up as an acquisition target." Besides, several analysts observed, now may not be the best time to sell off cable and Internet companies given massive competing forces.