Charter Communications and Comcast have picked former Insight Communications co-founder and CEO Michael Willner to take the helm at SpinCo once the deal between Time Warner Cable and Comcast is completed.
Late last month Comcast and Charter forged an agreement that included selling off 1.4 million Time Warner Cable subscribers to Charter, swapping 1.6 million subscribers between Comcast and Charter and spinning off 2.5 subs to form SpinCo.
Willner will oversee the operations of SpinCo in some of the former systems that Insight served prior to its acquisition by Time Warner Cable in 2012. SpinCo will serve subscribers in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
"A skilled operator with an impressive track record of success, Michael has been a pillar of leadership and an active ambassador for the Industry," said Charter president and CEO Tom Rutledge. "Michael’s expertise, strategic vision, and knowledge from his years at Insight will be invaluable to the customers, employees and shareholders of SpinCo. Having him on board now – and leading the new business post-transaction – will be extremely advantageous."
Charter will fill three of the nine-member board of directors for SpinCo with Rutledge taking one of those slots. Comcast gets to appoint three of the remaining six members of the board and will select three more from a list provided by Charter. These six board members will be independent of both Charter and Comcast.
On the technology and programming fronts, Charter will have a services agreement with SpinCo, which will help both companies achieve greater scale and regional efficiencies.
"I am excited to assemble and lead a new team of executives who will be exclusively focused on creating a great company with terrific products and excellent customer service," said Willner. "I am honored to take on this task and look forward to working with Tom and his team at Charter, as well as the strong teams in place within these systems and the other MSOs and suppliers in the industry."
The Charter/Comcast transactions are subject to a number of conditions, including the closing of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, and the required regulatory approvals. If all goes as planned, the Charter/Comcast transactions could close early next year.
Willner was CEO of Insight Communications from 1985 through 2012. He began his career in 1974 at Vision Cable Communications, a division of Advanced Publications and a part of the Newhouse family’s media investments, where he rose to become the chief operating Officer.
Willner currently serves as president and CEO of privately-held Penthera Partners, a software licensing company focused on cloud-to-mobile video technology. He will stay involved with that company as a member of its board.
Willner twice served as chairman of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). In addition, he was chairman of the NCTA’s political action committee (CablePAC) from 2000 until 2012, chairman of the board of the Cable Center from 2007 through 2011, was on the executive committee of CableLabs, and the boards of C-SPAN and the Walter Kaitz Foundation.
Willner was the winner of the NCTA’s 2004 Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership and a member of both the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and the Cable Hall of Fame.
"Michael is an excellent leader and the perfect choice to be at the helm of this new company," said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. "His deep knowledge of the cable business, combined with his experience and focus on technology, will enable him to drive growth and product innovation for customers and position SpinCo as a competitor in the industry."