New AOL TW Boss to Focus on Growth for Online Business

17 May 2002

Thursday’s annual stockholders meeting of the planet’s largest media group, AOL Time Warner, heard new chief executive officer Richard Parsons pledge to re-energize growth at its flagging online arm.

Parsons, who officially took over as ceo from Gerald Levin at the meeting, was grilled by stockholders as to his plans to boost the group’s share price – which has lost almost 65% of its value over the past twelve months.

Investors’ concerns focused on the AOL internet service – the group’s flagship when AOL merged with Time Warner two years ago. Parsons’ top goal, he told the meeting, is to revitalize AOL and he expressed his confidence that the company would achieve this. “We will re-establish the fact that AOL will be the growth engine for the company,” he assured.

Group chairman Steve Case was in contrite mode, admitting that the management team had made “mistakes” that injured the company’s credibility. And in the light of the onset of recession in 2001, its financial targets had been too ambitious. “Things didn't go quite the way we expected,” Case conceded

Nonetheless, the traditional side of the business had had burgeoned thanks to Brit movie hits Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, as well a robust recovery by Warner Music.

Defending AOL TW’s investment-grade credit rating is one of his top goals, Case said, as is the simplification of the its ownership structure.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff