Exec in Prime Position to Succeed Richard Parsons

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Time Warner today boosted Jeff Bewkes to president-chief operating officer, solidifying his position as the likely successor to Chairman-CEO Richard D. Parsons.
Jeff Bewkes

Mr. Bewkes and Don Logan, who is retiring from his post as chairman of the media and communications group, had shared the No. 2 spot since July 2002, when they were elevated as Robert W. Pittman resigned as chief operating officer of what was then AOL Time Warner.  Mr. Logan, 61, will become non-executive chairman, Time Warner Cable.

“Since I asked Don and Jeff to help me run the company in the summer of 2002, we have overcome a long list of challenges and put this company back on track,” Mr. Parsons said in a statement, citing a streamlined structure, strategic acquisitions and other developments. “Now, after having accomplished all that together, we’re smoothly transitioning our senior management team with Don’s well-earned retirement and Jeff’s well-deserved promotion.”

A stabilizer
Mr. Logan’s departure will be felt at Time Warner, where has worked for 35 years. He started at what became Time Inc.’s Southern Progress division and in 1992 became president-chief operating officer of Time Inc., the country’s largest magazine publisher.

“Don deserves a great deal of credit for stabilizing AOL and starting its transition to an advertising-based business model -- capped by this week’s strategic alliance with Google,” Mr. Parsons said, praising his work in other areas as well. “What makes Don so remarkable is that all of these achievements came after his legendary climb from that first job at Southern Progress to become chairman and CEO of Time Inc.-- with its 41 straight quarters of profit growth. Happily, we’ll again have the opportunity to benefit from Don’s wisdom when he becomes chairman of Time Warner Cable.”

Since being tapped to lead the entertainment and media group, Mr. Bewkes, 53, has overseen Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, TNT, TBS, the Cartoon Network and the WB. Before that, he ran HBO as CEO for seven years, helping to build its presence as a producer of widely noted series like “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.”

Pressures on the board
The changes come amid pressure on the Time Warner boardroom, which billionaire investor Carl Icahn blames for not pushing the stock price higher. Mr. Icahn has said he plans to try to oust most of the directors at Time Warner’s company meeting this spring and has already spoken out against the Google deal.

The moves at the top also closely follow last week’s bloodletting at Time Inc., where Mr. Logan’s successor, Ann S. Moore, eliminated 105 jobs including some of the unit’s best-known executives.

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