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Bewkes Roundup

As expected, Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) announced this week that Jeffrey Bewkes will succeed Richard Parsons as CEO, although Parsons will stay on as chairman of the board. (See Bewkes Succeeds Parsons.)

Bewkes, who has served as president and COO of Time Warner since 2006, will slip into his new, elevated role officially on Jan. 1, 2008.

In requisite fashion, speculation about "what it all means" quickly ensued. Here's a roundup of some theories, conjecture, and hearsay:

  • Reuters wonders if there are "big changes" ahead as investors demand that the company take measures to goose Time Warner's flagging stock, which, as the story points out, is trading at the levels it was at when Parsons took over five years ago. Some ideas: spinning off all or pieces of its AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) division, or selling off another slice of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which went public in February.

  • As properties like Time Warner Cable, which is set to issue third-quarter earnings tomorrow morning (Nov. 7), underperform, spinning AOL is "an easy fix," Wired speculates: "Executives have since made moves to trim the fat [at AOL] and focus on advertising, but it may prove to be too little too late as Bewkes steps in..."

  • Time Inc., the division that runs mags such as People, Time, and Sports Illustrated, "could also find itself on the block," notes the Los Angeles Times, citing industry watchers. Parson's "role was to still the waters," Lawrence Haverty of Gamco Investors told the paper. "Now Bewkes will maybe get license from the board to stir things up a little."

With the magnitude of changes being bandied about, Bewkes might do more than that when he takes the helm next year.

"Everything is on the table," Bewkes told The Wall Street Journal.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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