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Time Warner Ticks Higher on CEO Report

The <I>Times of London</I> claims that Dick Parsons' departure is imminent.

Shares of

Time Warner


were up nearly 4% Friday in response to a loosely sourced report that the announcement of CEO Dick Parsons' departure is imminent.

A story from

Times of London

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said the issue of replacing Parsons with Jeff Bewkes was discussed at a board meeting in London this week. The report said that while no final decision was made, "it is an open secret at the New York based group that the handover is 'coming soon'."

The story, without attributing the information, said an announcement could come as soon as next week. A spokesman for Time Warner could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ascension of Bewkes, Time Warner's president and chief operating officer, to CEO has long been expected. At a recent investor conference in New York City, Parsons likened the coming transition to handing off a baton in a relay race, but said the company was not ready yet for the hand-off.

Parsons' contract expires in May, but an announcement of a changeover is expected to take place by the end of the year.

Shares of Time Warner recently were up 63 cents to $18.34. An announcement of a Parsons departure would come as welcome news on Wall Street, where the CEO is perceived as a force for the status quo at the sprawling media conglomerate.

Investors view the company as ripe for a restructuring that would unlock value for shareholders. Bewkes is seen as more likely to embrace dramatic changes in the company's structure.

Parsons' five-and-a-half-year tenure at Time Warner came at a difficult period for the company following its disastrous merger with Web giant AOL and before the bursting of the dot-com stock bubble. Since then, shares of Time Warner have been largely stagnant.