WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey Promoted to Added Roles of AT&T President, COO

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John Stankey

Overseeing various units, he will report to AT&T chair and CEO Randall Stephenson, who says: "Now is the time to more tightly align our collection of world-class content, scaled consumer relationships, technical know-how and innovative advertising technology."

AT&T said Tuesday that WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey will take on the additional roles of president and COO of AT&T, effective Oct. 1.

The telecom giant said this was "a new position reporting to Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO." Stankey will continue serving as CEO of WarnerMedia. The promotion was widely seen as positioning Stankey as a likely successor to Stephenson down the line.

The company also tapped AT&T executive Jeff McElfresh as CEO of AT&T Communications, effective Oct. 1. McElfresh replaces John Donovan, who recently announced his retirement. McElfresh will lead AT&T’s largest business unit, AT&T Communications, which serves 100 million mobile, broadband and pay TV customers in the U.S. as well as millions of business customers.

Reporting to Stankey in his expanded role will be McElfresh, his current WarnerMedia executive team and Brian Lesser, CEO of advanced advertising unit Xandr.

"Now is the time to more tightly align our collection of world-class content, scaled consumer relationships, technical know-how and innovative advertising technology," said Stephenson. "It’s the natural next step in bringing together the distinct and complementary capabilities of AT&T Communications, WarnerMedia and Xandr to deliver for consumers the benefits of a modern media company. AT&T is alone in the industry in being able to bring together these three great businesses for the launch of innovative consumer offers, relevant advertising and new entertainment services like HBO Max."

Added Stephenson: "John is an outstanding executive who has led nearly every area of our business, helped shape our strategy and excelled at operations throughout his career. The board and I look forward to John hitting the ground running in his new role as president and COO."

Stankey, 56, joined AT&T in 1985 and has served in various leadership roles, including corporate strategy and M&A; media and entertainment; operations, IT and technology; consumer mobility, broadband and TV; and enterprise business.

McElfresh, 48, has nearly 25 years of experience with AT&T in a variety of strategic, operational and technology leadership roles. Most recently, he was president of AT&T Communications’ technology and operations group, where he was responsible for the company’s network, technology, cybersecurity, data and labs operations.