Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is expected to stay on through the close of the company’s acquisition by AT&T and is unlikely to be replaced by former Fox top executive Peter Chernin, the companies made clear on Saturday after news of the mega merger broke.
In a conference call with reporters, AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson said that maintaining continuity of the top talent at Time Warner was a major factor in the desire to acquire the company.
“I made it clear to Jeff that the talent he has assembled is a really important part of this deal,” Stephenson said. “It’s really critical to make sure the continuity of the team” at Time Warner remains in place.
Said Bewkes: “We both have been very focused on keeping all the Time Warner executives — business executives, creative executives — going forward for the long term. And so, I expect basically all of our creative and business executives to go on for many years.”
Stephenson quashed rumors that Peter Chernin, whose Otter Media is funded by AT&T and who advised the telecom company on the deal with Time Warner, may take over the top job. ” “I think Peter’s got his hands full right now,” said Stephenson.
That essentially means that Bewkes, a highly-respected veteran with decades of leadership at Time Warner, will stay on for some time, though he seems likely depart at some point after the acquisition is completed. “I’m planning to do this as long as I can help the company,” Bewkes said.
Stephenson added: “I would tell you it’s open-ended, but I really value Jeff. He’s a big part of this deal, and having him a part of this transition is a really, really important to us.”
Beyond that, the emphasis on maintaining continuity among the Time Warner leadership suggests that AT&T will seek to retain key executives like Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, HBO chief Richard Plepler and Turner CEO John Martin.