LONDON: Time Warner chairman/ceo Richard Parsons last week outlined the challenges that remain before he contemplates his retirement. The media empire boss wants to ensure online division AOL is "in good shape and in good hands" before he steps down.

Parsons (59, pictured above), who took the TW helm in 2002, told a Merrill Lynch investment conference in the UK capital that his other priorities include integration of new cable systems acquired last year [WARC News: 17-Jul-06] and digital strategies for the magazine unit. He said he would name a date within two years for taking leave of the company .

AOL, which has struggled financially since its merger with TW in 2000, is in process of transforming its business model from a subscription-based web portal to an advertising supported service.

Ad sales rose 40% in the first quarter of 2007 under the stewardship of veteran NBC television network boss Randy Falco, appointed as ceo last November.

Parsons told the conference that early results looked good and he was encouraged by the progress made.

He added: "By the end of this year, we can make the call on AOL as to whether we have found a business model or approach that can result in sustainable growth over time. We're in the right area."

He also intimated that TW could see a complete separation of its majority-owned cable services company in five years, but he was "not prepared to make that call yet".

Parsons' successor at TW is expected to be Jeffrey Bewkes, currently company president and a former ceo of the HBO cable unit.

Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional information by WARC staff