With his promotion to chief operating officer Tuesday, Time Warner Cable chief financial officer Rob Marcus has won what some analysts had seen as a battle to gain the top spot at the MSO after current chairman Glenn Britt retires.
Marcus, a Time Warner Inc. and Time Warner Cable veteran, replaces former COO Landel Hobbs, effective immediately. It could not be determined what Hobbs will do after leaving the company.
Marcus has been more in the spotlight as of late: his announcement that TWC would report negative PSU growth in the third quarter at an industry conference in November sent the stock into a brief tailspin but won Marcus points with the investment community as a straight shooter.
Analysts seemed pleased with the selection.
BTIG Research's Richard Greenfield said that he has always seen Marcus as next in line for the top spot at the cable giant.
"He has a great rapport with investors and has a background in strategy," Greenfield wrote in an e-mail message.
Others stressed Marcus' financial acumen, integrity and focus on shareholder returns.
Investors also appeared pleased. Time Warner Cable stock was up 31 cents each (0.5%) to $64.94 per share on Tuesday.
While it is ultimately up to the board of directors as to who will replace Britt when the time comes, having a background in finance has been a key advantage in ascending to the top spot. Britt had served as CFO of Time Inc. and held numerous finance jobs at former Time Warner Cable parent Time Warner Inc. before joining the cable company as president in 1999.
By 2001, Britt was named CEO of the cable unit, became CEO after the company split from Time Warner Inc. in 2006 and was named chairman and CEO in 2009.
Marcus wouldn't talk about succession plans, but said that strategies that Hobbs had helped put in place will remain, particularly the cable company's segmentation strategy which Hobbs had championed.
In an interview, Marcus said that strategic decisions were made on a collaborative basis between himself, Hobbs and Britt.
"We really operated as a combined management team over the last several years," Marcus said. "While we each had our level of expertise that we brought to the table, our strategy was set collectively. I'm very much on board with the current course. While every executive puts their own imprint on the direction of a company, I'm very confident with the path we've set for ourselves."
Marcus added that he will be involved in the selection process for a new CFO and that the search will be both inside and outside the company. He added that some of the non-CFO segments that had previously reported to him, such as programming will report to Britt.
"For the most part I am taking over the responsibilities that Landel previously held plus a couple of others," Marcus said. "What I would say is that the way we operated before this change will continue. While we will have formal reporting lines because not everyone can report to one person just logistically, my expectation is that we will continue to operate every bit as a team."
According to some people familiar with Hobbs, his decision to leave was largely personal. The 48-year-old executive has been commuting from Atlanta where his family resides and Time Warner Cable headquarters in New York. According to some people familiar with the situation, the time away from his family finally took its toll.
Hobbs' employment contract was also set to expire in January.
Marcus, 45, resides with his wife Wendy and four children in Short Hills, N.J., a brief commute to New York. He joined Time Warner Cable in 2005 as senior executive vice president and became CFO in 2008. Prior to that he was Time Warner Inc.'s lead dealmaker, creating the Time Warner Entertainment partnership in the 1990s and helping to engineer its joint purchase of Adelphia Communications with Comcast in 2006.