Home & Office

AOL Time Warner chief in shock resignation

End of an era and all that...
Written by Aled Herbert, Contributor

End of an era and all that...

Gerald Levin has stepped down from his position as chief executive officer of AOL Time Warner. Levin, 63, has decided to take early retirement and will be replaced by one of the media giant's chief operating officers Richard Parsons. Steve Case remains as the company's chairman, while Robert Pittman stays on as AOL's chief operating officer. Parsons' promotion makes him one of the most powerful African-Americans in the corporate world. He also has ties with the Bush administration. Formerly president of Time Warner prior to the merger of the two companies, Parsons is a well-respected figure within the company and the industry. The move has left analysts mystified who expected Levin to stay on at the firm for around two years. They had also tipped COO Pittman for the role. According to reports, Levin was deeply affected by the events of 11 September and chose to leave the corporate circus ahead of schedule to explore his "sensitive, creative" side. He was central in guiding the AOL and Time Warner through their $106bn merger. In a memo to the company, Levin said: "I felt that once my work was completed and I was satisfied with the company's direction and progress, I'd invoke that [early retirement] provision and turn my full energies to the moral and social issues I feel so passionate about." The memo also contained a quote from the Bible that read: "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven." AOL Time Warner's share price was largely unaffected by the news, ending slightly up on the day's trading. The company's shares ended the day up over three per cent at $35.83. Levin will hand over the reigns to Parsons in May 2002. In related news, the company today announced that worldwide membership of its AOL service had surpassed 32 million.
Editorial standards