Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US) Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt will retire at the end of the year, to be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Rob Marcus.
Marcus, 48, will take over as CEO and chairman on Jan. 1, 2014, the company said yesterday in a statement. Britt, 64, will remain on the board in a non-executive role. Bloomberg News reported in February that Britt would retire at year’s end.
“Rob and I have had a chance to work together knowing this transition would be coming for a few years know, and I just couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” Britt said in an interview. “We set out to make a company that was transparent, that was a good place to work, and that was happy to reinvent itself as the world around us changes.”
Marcus steps into the role just as the company is popping up in merger speculation. Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR:US), the fourth-largest U.S. cable company, is interested in a combination with Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable operator, people familiar with the matter have said. Britt and Marcus declined to comment on Charter.
The new CEO also faces challenges in the traditional pay-TV business. Time Warner Cable has failed to add video customers for more than five years as consumers have switched to competing services such as Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS or canceled cable altogether.
Britt is “passing the baton to a highly talented leader in Rob Marcus, who has impressed me for years with his focus and drive toward success,” Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s CEO, said in an e-mail. Comcast is the largest U.S. cable company by subscribers.
Time Warner Cable shares fell less than 1 percent to $116.85 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 20 percent this year.
Marcus joined Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US) in 1998 and knows both the programming side of the business and the cable-distribution industry, David Zaslav, CEO of cable-channel programmer Discovery Communications Inc. (DISCA:US), said in an interview.
“Rob will be a great choice to continue to lead Time Warner Cable through a changing world,” Zaslav said. “He’s very focused on how the business is changing. He and I have had long conversations about online streaming and Netflix and HBO Go and how consumers want to consume content.”
Marcus is “a known commodity to the investment community,” Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries, said in an e-mail. “The management continuity suggests the company will retain its cash-return policies, which investors favor.”
The company has reduced its outstanding shares by 17 percent through repurchases since the end of 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It replenished its buyback fund to $4 billion yesterday.
Britt has been Time Warner Cable’s CEO since 2001 and oversaw the company’s transition to a public company after it was spun off from Time Warner Inc. Britt joined Time Inc. in 1972 and has worked in the cable industry for about 40 years. His 2012 compensation was $17.4 million.
“This isn’t a guy, like most in the media, that you’d have to carry out on a stretcher before they were ready to go,” Richard Parsons, former Time Warner Inc. CEO, said in an interview. “Glenn’s had it in his mind that he’d do his thing and then have an orderly retirement.”
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