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December 21, 2005 Wednesday 9:42 AM EST
David B. Wilkerson, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) - Time Warner, the world's largest media company, said Wednesday that Jeff Bewkes has been named president and chief operating officer. Bewkes had been chairman of the conglomerate's Entertainment & Networks Group since July 2002.
The company also said Don Logan will retire as chairman of the company's Media & Communications Group at the end of the year to become non-executive chairman of Time Warner Cable's board of directors.
For the last three years, Bewkes has overseen film units Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema; premium cable networks HBO and Cinemax; basic cable outlets CNN, TNT, TBS SuperStation, Cartoon Network; and the WB television network.
Prior to that, Bewkes had served as CEO of HBO for seven years following stints as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
"As Group chairman, Jeff contributed to our recent achievements by overseeing record-breaking performances at our filmed entertainment and networks businesses, and providing critical leadership for cross-company initiatives involving the digital distribution of content," said Dick Parsons, Time Warner's chairman, in a statement. Bewkes has been seen in some circles as a possible heir apparent to Parsons.
The executive shuffle comes during a critical juncture for Time Warner (TWX) , which has come under fire from billionaire financier Carl Icahn. Icahn has pushed for a restructuring of the company, including the spinoff of its cable operations and publishing division, in an attempt to revive the company's stock price, which has remained stagnant in the $18 range for the last two years.
Time Warner shares opened modestly higher Wednesday, rising 7 cents to $17.81. In other Time Warner news, search giant Google has agreed to take a 5% stake in America Online for $1 billion, becoming the only other shareholder in that unit.