Parsons Tells CNBC: No Plans to Sell AOL or Magazine Division
Richard Parsons, Time Warner’s chief executive, told CNBC that there are no plans to sell the company’s AOL division to a private equity firm.
“We like the construction of this company,” Parsons said Thursday in an interview with Maria Bartiromo. “If we can execute against our strategies and plans, this is the horse to ride-– and that’s our plan.”
Parsons said Time Warner now has about 150 magazine titles and has no plans to sell its publishing division either.
“We needed to go through our portfolio and say, ‘What makes sense? What’s coherent? What will have an extended life in on online sense?’” Parsons said. “We’ve been pruning and we’ll continue to do that. I like the magazine business. I like the publishing business. We’re there to stay.”
He said the company was unable to turn its print titles into popular online content because the material was placed behind the “garden wall at AOL” and available only to subscribers.
The content is now available to anyone at no cost as the company seeks to expand its reach, run up the clicks and make money on advertising – not just subscriptions to AOL.
“This is a sustainable growth model because the numbers keep showing up,” Parsons said.
Bartiromo asked what advice Parsons might have for Motorola CEO Ed Zander, in light of the tussle between the tech company's leadership and billionaire investor Carl Icahn -- who took on Parsons and Time Warner in a similar power struggle.
"It's too late for advice," Parsons said, "because the fat's in the frying pan -- the proxy is on, and we'll see what happens at the end of the day." The Motorola shareholder vote is scheduled for May 7.
As for dual-class stock -- a large talking point in Rupert Murdoch's takeover bid for Dow Jones -- Parsons said the structure can serve a useful purpose, especially in historically family-controlled media firms.
The CEO said the public "often wants the family to retain control," and the duality can be "good or bad" for investors, depending on the situation. But he noted that the dual structure was "not built to last forever -- and none of them do last forever."