Parsons takes reins at AOL TW

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Richard Parsons, who less than a year ago shared co-chief operating officer billing with then-heir apparent Bob Pittman, became AOL Time Warner's first chairman-CEO on Jan. 16.

One of his first priorities will be to manage the initial public offering of Time Warner Cable. In his eight-month tenure as CEO, Mr. Parsons has unwound the twisty Time Warner Entertainment partnership, and deal-starved investment firms clamor to handle that cable unit's upcoming IPO. The upcoming spin-off of Time Warner Cable, projected to happen in the second quarter, may prompt another round of executive realignment, said one company executive.

Mr. Parsons' appointment caps a week of executive tumult at the world's largest media company, as Chairman Steve Case and Chairman-CEO of the CNN News Group Walter Isaacson separately announced they would depart in the spring.

In the words of one company executive, Mr. Parsons, unlike Mr. Pittman, Mr. Case, and former CEO Gerald Levin, "emerged from the merger remarkably unscathed." This despite, in one key executive's accounting, his presence in a tiny inner circle aware of Mr. Levin's early explorations with AOL.

Repairing AOL remains a critical point for the company, and federal investigations of pre-merger ad deals at that unit continue.

Some company executives suggested that Mr. Parsons' new job may mean more duties shifted to Jeff Bewkes and Don Logan, chairmen of the company's two operating units, and one placed an early bet on Mr. Bewkes as Mr. Parsons' future successor as CEO. A company spokeswoman, though, said that Mr. Bewkes' and Mr. Logan's portfolios will not be broadened. Through the spokeswoman, Mr. Parsons declined to comment on the move beyond a statement issued with the announcement.

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