Former Cablevision COO Thomas M. Rutledge Named President and CEO of Charter Communications

Tom Rutledge COO - H 2011
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Tom Rutledge COO - H 2011

Following his resignation from Cablevision, the company's stock fell by more than half a billion dollars.

Within hours after Thomas M. Rutledge resigned as Chief Operating Officer of Cablevision Systems the company’s stock fell by over half a billion dollars.

No wonder he wasn’t out of work for long. On Monday, Charter Communications named Rutledge its CEO and president effective Feb. 13, 2012.

At Cablevision, Rutledge was considered a pioneer in developing the “triple play,” which means he expanded the company beyond being the biggest cable operator in the New York City market, and built the business in Internet connections and telephone services as well.  As a result, Cablevision was seen as having among the highest profit margins in the industry.

When he resigned Cablevision shares fell 8.5% to a low of $11.57 a share before recovering. It was about $13 on Monday.

Cablevision is the ninth largest U.S. cable operator with about 3.3 million subscribers, according to NCTA statistics (as of June 2011). They list Charter as the sixth largest operator with 4.4 million subscribers (in 25 states).

Charter, which is based near St. Louis, had been controlled by Paul Allen until 2009 when it went into bankruptcy. It came out of bankruptcy at the end of 2009, and after that the largest shareholder was the private equity firm Apollo Management.

Charter stock was $52.74 a share on Monday. The announcement was after the end of the trading day, so speculation is the stock will rise on Tuesday.

There had been reports that Rutledge was not getting along with the Cablevision CEO, James Dolan, who with his father holds a controlling interest it he stock of the company.  Besides Cablevision, Dolan also oversees Madison Square Garden, which owns the struggling New York Knicks basketball team.

There had been rumors Charter had talked to Rutledge even before he left Cablevision. Charter has been searching for a new leader for some time and Rutledge is considered one of the best operators in the business, with knowledge of everything from construction to finance to marketing. He is especially popular on Wall Street, as was shown by what happened to Cablevision stock when he resigned.

At Charter, he succeeds Michael Lovett, who announced his plans to step down in the first quarter of 2011 and has been waiting for his successor to be appointed.
“Tom is a highly accomplished executive with a long track record of success,” Charter board chairman Eric L. Zinterhofer said in a statement. “He has the rare combination of operational expertise and strategic vision to lead Charter through its promising next phase of growth.”

“Charter is an outstanding company with great people, products, assets and growth opportunities,” said Rutledge in a statement.