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TW exec tapped AOL finance chief

Exec previously at TBS' Turner Entertainment Group

NEW YORK — America Online on Friday appointed Turner Broadcasting executive Stephen Swad to the post of exec VP and chief financial officer. It’s the latest in a string of management appointments at the beleaguered Netco and installs another former Time Warner manager in a top job at AOL.

Swad, 41, has served for the past four years as president of finance and administration for TBS’ Turner Entertainment Group. He will report to AOL vice chairman Joseph Ripp, overseeing financial and tax planning, financial analysis, reporting and compliance.

Prior to Turner, Swad worked as VP of financial planning for parent AOL Time Warner and as deputy controller of Time Warner, which he joined in 1988. Previously, he was a partner at KPMG and deputy chief accountant with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Swad’s new role comes at a complex time for AOL as the world’s biggest Internet service provider struggles to re-create itself in a broadband world. In early December, AOL execs announced sweeping changes designed to stem customer erosion, boost margins and keep the service relevant.

For most on Wall Street, and even within AOL TW, the jury is still out on whether efforts will succeed. AOL Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons said he expects a trough this year and improvement in 2004. America Online and sister company Warner Music last week launched a service allowing AOL subscribers to download music from the Web for a fee.

AOL’s financial statements are also under heavy scrutiny as SEC and the Justice Dept. continue investigations into irregular accounting practices at America Online.

Separately, outgoing AOL TW vice chairman Ted Turner sold 1 million more shares of the company’s stock Tuesday, according to filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission released Friday, raising about $10 million. It’s Turner’s fifth sale of stock in a month. A Turner rep said the proceeds were to used for his “personal business interests and philanthropy.”

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