Turner International Launching Digital Ventures and Innovation Unit

Turner International executive Aksel van der Wal - H 2016
Courtesy of Turner International

Trey Turner will become CFO, succeeding Aksel van der Wal, who will run the new unit and will be "charged with developing new digital direct-to-consumer businesses," among other things.

Time Warner's Turner unit said Tuesday its international business is launching a digital division to lead digital innovation.

Turner International is led by president Gerhard Zeiler. The international unit of Turner Broadcasting, led by chairman and CEO John Martin, has so far consisted of a European, Latin American and Asian operation.

Time Warner, which recently agreed to be acquired by telecom giant AT&T for $85.4 billion, has been building its technology and digital expertise across its businesses.

Aksel van der Wal, currently senior vp and CFO of Turner International, will lead the new division as executive vp digital ventures and innovation, effective Jan. 1. He will report to Zeiler.

"Under his leadership the new division will focus on driving profitable growth through international consumer-centric initiatives, including all of Turner’s international multiplatform suite of digital properties and its direct-to-consumer product strategy," the company said. "In close co-operation with the Turner International presidents, van der Wal has the responsibility for the existing portfolio of international products and services on the web, for smart phones, games, apps and OTT, and he will also be charged with developing new digital direct-to-consumer businesses, leading a cross-platform business intelligence function that drives consumer insight; managing the internal technology and operations infrastructure, and helping to implement the strategy of the non-linear ad sales business."

Additionally, Turner International said "he will identify new opportunities for Turner and decide on how to engage in those new areas, through technological product innovation and/or acquisitions."

In his role as CFO for Turner International, van der Wal will be succeeded by Trey Turner, currently senior vp corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions. Based in Atlanta, Turner will report to Pascal Desroches, executive vp and CFO of Turner, while working closely with Zeiler.

“As our industry undergoes huge evolution, the impact of digital disruption and changing consumer behavior continues to put audience insight right at the heart of our business strategy,” said Zeiler. "This new division will ensure that we assess new opportunities for innovation, development and acquisition through the lens of relevant, robust consumer data and through a realigned, agile organizational structure."

He added: "Aksel's experience in transformative management, his first-class understanding of both the linear and digital media landscapes, and his detailed knowledge of Turner’s international operation, all combine to make him a superb fit for this new role."