Cablevision Systems COO Tom Rutledge has abruptly resigned and will leave the company in one month.
Legal documents show that Rutledge, 58, still had several years left on his management contract.
Rutledge left Time Warner Cable and joined Cablevision in 2002 as the company’s president of cable and communications.
He became chief operating officer in 2004, adding responsibilities for Cablevision’s Rainbow Media (now a separate company, AMC Networks), Newsday, and other businesses and administrative functions. He also served a stint as chairman of the NCTA.
He was CED’s 2009 Person of the Year.
Rutledge said: “Everything I hoped for when I came to Cablevision has come true. I am proud of our record of success and of the strong leadership team that remains in place to continue this work. I have spent my entire working life – 34 years – in the cable industry, but my decade at Cablevision will always stand out because of the things we were able to achieve and the value we were able to deliver to customers in the most competitive market in the nation.”
Rutledge spent much of his career prior to joining Cablevision with Time Warner Cable and some of its precursor companies. In 2001, he was named president of TWC but held that post for only three months, leaving just before the corporation made additional management changes.
He gave no reason for leaving then, and he didn’t this time either.
Craig Moffett, an analyst with Bernstein Research, told Reuters that Rutledge’s departure was “a devastating loss for Cablevision.”
Investors are clearly responding to his departure, sending the value of Cablevision’s stock downward. The company’s stock opened at just under $12 today, almost $2 (or about 14 percent) off of yesterday’s close and well off of the company’s 52-week high of $38.
The resignation has re-incited speculation that Cablevision might be preparing for that long-rumored sale (as for buyers, Time Warner Cable has always been the most popular suspect).
As for Rutledge’s future, it has been widely noted that Charter Communications CEO Michael Lovett plans to step down once a replacement is identified.
James Dolan, Cablevision’s president and chief executive officer, commented: “Tom Rutledge has played a key role in driving and shaping Cablevision’s success over the last decade, applying a rare combination of technological vision and operational excellence that has delivered results. We are enormously thankful for his time here.”