In a move that should come as no surprise to followers of the company, Time Warner Inc. said that CEO Jeffrey Bewkes will add the chairman of the board title to his resume, effective Jan. 1.
Bewkes, who was named CEO last year, was expected to become chairman next year. As part of his employment contract, if the CEO was not named chairman by Jan.1, 2009, he had the right to leave and head up another media company without violating his non-compete agreement.
“I’m honored to be named chairman and very appreciative of the board’s support,” Bewkes said in a statement. “I’ll continue to work closely with the board and our senior management team to execute our company’s strategy of providing compelling, branded media content to audiences around the world, while delivering superior growth and returns to our stockholders.”
Bewkes also thanked Parsons for his stewardship of Time Warner.
“During very challenging times, he stabilized the company and built a solid foundation for our growth,” Bewkes said in the statement. “He has been a great leader for all of us at Time Warner.”
Bewkes has already made an imprint on the company in his first year as CEO. Last May he announced the split off of its interest in Time Warner Cable, a deal that will net the media giant a $9.2 billion cash dividend. He has also revamped its AOL unit toward a more ad-centric model.
Bewkes is a long-time veteran of Time Warner, serving as chairman and CEO of its Home Box Office unit from 1995 before being named chairman of AOL Time Warner’s entertainment and networks group in 2002. In 2005, after a name change back to Time Warner, Bewkes was named president and chief operating officer and became CEO in January 2008.
Parsons, who served as Time Warner chairman through some difficult times – including paring down the massive debt associated with the AOL merger and fighting off an attempt by activist shareholder Carl Icahn to oust management and split up the company – praised Bewkes for his business savvy.
“He has the vision, experience and dedication to lead this company in the years ahead.” Parsons said in a statement. “It has been a tremendous privilege to serve as chairman of this great company. I am proud of what we accomplished, and I am very grateful to my colleagues on the board and throughout the company for their steadfast commitment to our stockholders, our customers, the broader public and to me.”