Jeff Bewkes’ nearly 40 year career at Time Warner is descending for its final landing. That final landing will take place when AT&T closes on its $85 billion deal to acquire the company Mr. Bewkes brought back from the brink of disaster following what is known as the worst merger in history when AOL bought TimeWarner back in 2001 under then CEO Gerald Levin. At the time Mr. Bewkes was heading HBO and was one of voices against the merger. Over the past almost 10 years as CEO Mr. Bewkes has trimmed the fat at TimeWarner in an effort to allow it to flourish. He spun off AOL, Cable and Magazines leaving TimeWarner with just its cable and entertainment assets and the decision was a smart one. Today AOL is now part of Verizon, TimeWarner Cable was acquired and the name has since been eliminated and Time Inc, is still plagued by the never ending slide in print based ad revenue and itself is still seen as a takeover target. All three divisions were seen as dead weight holding back TimeWarner’s more lucrative cable and entertainment businesses.
Now it is Time Warner’s turn to be sold and the pending AT&T deal is pulling closer to reality each day. Federal regulators are expected to approve the deal though some politics have seeped into the process. However the deal is expected to win full approval and close before or by the end of summer. Upon the completion of the sale, Mr. Bewkes will depart the company after the transition period ends. The TimeWarner name which has been a staple in media for decades is expected to be put to rest forever as AT&T absorbs all its assets forming a new media business. The sale will bring to an end storied career for Mr. Bewkes and a corporate name that came together back in 1990 following the merger of Warner Communications and Time Inc. Once the world’s biggest media media company, TimeWarner had its hands in every corner of the entertainment world including Music when it owned Warner Music Group.
If Time Warner is folded into AT&T, it will mark the end of an era, for both an executive who rose through the corporate ranks after starting as an HBO staff member in 1979 — using a stack of boxes as a desk — and a media conglomerate. Over the past century, dating to its roots in Time Inc., the company ushered in a series of innovations, including the first weekly magazine in the United States, the first talking feature film, the first premium cable network, the first 24-hour news network and, on Mr. Bewkes’s watch, a push toward video-on-demand and other digital offerings.
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