Levin lays out vision for TW

Chair: Biz should act in public's interest

During a two-hour, stand-up performance in front of 950 stockholders, Time Warner chairman and CEO Gerald M. Levin laid out his vision for the company as a “blue-chip, high-growth, values-driven” organization.

He praised the financial performance of various divisions and proclaimed that “no other company can match the array of trusted world-class icons that have been aggregated in Time Warner.”

The annual stockholders meeting was held at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank Thursday.

In response to a question concerning media violence and what Time Warner intended to do about reducing violence in its products, Levin replied that “we have a heightened sensitivity to the impact of what we do.” He added that the company is in the process of formulating guidelines to ethics and values dealing with how TW conducts business and affects public policy.

Public interest considered

A recurring theme of his talk was that corporations should operate in the public interest, as well as for the benefit of their shareholders. Levin did not offer specific examples, but did say that he was personally opposed to political action committees and had ordered all Time Warner political contributions halted until the matter was studied further.

Levin outlined a rosy financial picture for the company, and, to cheers from the stockholders, noted that an investment in TW stock has produced a 52% compounded annual rate of return over the past three years.

Looking ahead, Levin emphasized that Time Warner intends to be at the forefront of companies taking advantage of the Internet, which would include marketing of products as well as delivering entertainment and news.

Five stockholder ballot issues were approved: The slate of 13 board members was elected; stockholders approved charter amendments increasing the authorized number of shares; a restricted stock plan for employees and a separate plan for nonemployee directors were approved; and appointment of outside auditing firm Ernst & Young was approved.