Accounting investigation may affect chairman's future
AOL Time Warner chairman Steve Case emerged from the conglom’s Thursday board meeting with his title intact, although the dissatisfaction of some directors makes it all but certain that the debate over his future at the company won’t die any time soon.
“As we repeatedly said, Steve Case is the company’s chairman and he will remain so. Steve Case and (CEO) Dick Parsons conducted regular board business at today’s meeting. Steve Case’s role at the company was not on the agenda and not discussed,” an AOL TW representative said after the daylong meeting ended Thursday evening.
It would take a three-fourths majority to unseat America Online’s Case, who still has enough support on the board to keep his job despite a growing sentiment on Wall Street that the AOL piece of AOL TW has been discredited. Some predict that his resignation may become inevitable if the SEC and Dept. of Justice investigation into AOL’s accounting continues or widens.
Parsons is said to support Case and believe that more changes in the AOL TW executive suite would further destabilize employee and investor morale. Former chairman Gerald Levin, chief operating officer Bob Pittman and a squad of AOL execs have departed this year.
Vocal board member Ted Turner — who has lost $7 billion since the AOL TW merger — is said to have called for Case’s ouster.
Slow growth and unfulfilled promises at AOL are blamed for a steep decline in AOL TW stock price. Revitalizing the giant Internet service provider “is top priority” and was certainly addressed by the board at Thursday’s meeting. AOL shares fell 4.36% Thursday to close at $12.27.