Parsons exits as TW chairman

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Richard Parsons is stepping down as chairman of Time Warner at year's end, and the conglomerate's board has elected CEO Jeffrey Bewkes to take on the added role effective Jan. 1.

The move, voted on by the board late Thursday, again combines the TW chairman and CEO titles in a single executive — a practice some corporate governance activists dislike. Bewkes will drop his title of president.

Parsons' departure has been expected as he has removed himself step-by-step from company business during the past year. He also previously signaled that he most likely will not stay on beyond his current contract. Plus, there's a provision in Bewkes' contract that says he could leave his job if he didn't get named chairman by Jan. 1.

Parsons' next step might be in politics: He has served on President-elect Barack Obama's economic transition team, and there has been talk about a run for mayor of New York. A TW spokesman said that Parsons hasn't commented on the issue and wasn't available Thursday.

Bewkes, who took over as CEO at the start of this year, has begun to restructure TW's asset portfolio to focus it on content businesses and accelerate its growth and returns. Time Warner Cable is expected to be separated from the rest of the conglomerate in early 2009.

"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 said.

Parsons said the TW board "could have made no better choice." He had pushed Bewkes for the CEO job.

The chairman-designate also said at an investor conference Wednesday that he expects a decision on the future of AOL shortly.
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