TW shares rise on buzz about Parsons' exit


NEW YORK -- The latest round of buzz about Richard Parsons' early departure from his post as CEO of Time Warner Inc. pushed shares in the media and entertainment conglomerate higher Friday.

The Times of London reported that his exit could come as early as next week. It said a final decision hasn't been made, but company insiders believe his departure is "imminent."

A TW spokesman called the report a "rumor" and said nothing has been decided and announced.

Under the terms of his contract, Parsons, who took over the helm in 2002, serves as chairman and CEO until May. He has long been expected to be succeeded by president and COO Jeffrey Bewkes.

In recent months, Parsons has signaled that he will not extend his contract and could even leave before its end.

Some have suggested, he could step down from the CEO post before year's end and continue to fill the chairman role for a transition period.

Wall Street has this year made clear that it expects Bewkes to look at selling or spinning off more assets once he takes over. Analysts have identified AOL and the Time Inc. magazine division as likely properties to be shed in such moves, which many hope would boost TW's stock price.

TW shares closed up 3.6% at $18.35 on Friday. Over the past year, they have traded between $17.60 and $23.15.