Although the move was expected, the new hand at the helm is almost certain to bring substantial changes to Time Warner, which owns media assets including Time Inc., the Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Bros., AOL and, for now, a big stake in Time Warner Cable. Mr. Bewkes is expected to seriously consider spinning off divisions of the conglomerate, whose stock price has been stagnant at best over the last 12 months.
'A lot to do'
"We have a lot to do, and I'm intensely focused on building shareholder value," Mr. Bewkes said in a statement. "Everyone at Time Warner owes Dick a debt of gratitude for his leadership as CEO over the last five years. Dick accomplished much to restore Time Warner's stature as the world's leading media and entertainment company, and he put into place the foundation and flexibility for our future growth."
Mr. Bewkes is the right person to be the next CEO, Mr. Parsons said in the same company statement. "Jeff is a well-respected business executive both inside and outside the company," he said. His results-oriented management style and deep industry knowledge will be invaluable as he drives growth at Time Warner."
Mr. Bewkes has been president-COO of Time Warner since last year and was elected to the board this year. From 2002 through 2005, he was chairman of Time Warner's entertainment and networks group. He was previously CEO of HBO for seven years.
Improve the stock price
One of Mr. Bewkes' biggest challenges will be to improve the media company's stock price, which has hovered at about $18 a share during most of Mr. Parson's tenure.
Time Warner has ranked as the No. 1 media company in the U.S. since 1995, according to Advertising Age Media 100 rankings. It had $33.99 billion in net media revenue in 2006, with Time Warner Cable contributing the largest share ($11.74 billion).