The DoJ may have failed in its efforts to block the "vertical" merger of AT&T and CNN-owner Time Warner, although the delays caused by the the federal lawsuit certainly hurt the company. But President Trump hasn't yet let go of his antipathy toward the combined company, as evidenced by a tweet this morning where Trump gloated about the ouster of Randall Stephenson, the CEO of "heavily indebted" AT&T.
According to Trump, " anyone who lets a garbage 'network' do and say the things that CNN does should leave ASAP". Hopefully Stephenson's replacement (COO John Stankey) will be "much better!" - or at the very least find somebody else to run the company's cable news network other than Jeff Zucker.
Great News! Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage “network” do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2020
Unfortunately, even though Stephenson is retiring from his CEO roll, he will stay on as chairman until at least the end of the year to ensure an orderly transition, at which time Stankey will succeed him as the chairman.
CNBC broke the news earlier on Friday morning. The news was not unexpected, though it was done in an "unexpected fashion" when Stephenson announced the news during Friday's annual shareholder meeting. Stephenson had previously made it clear that he would likely leave the company this year after finally finishing the mega-merger as activist shareholder Elliott Management, run by ruthless hedge fund titan Paul Singer, has pushed for management changes as the company struggles with the flailing DirectTV and braces for the rollout of 5G.
Read the full press release on the move below:
DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After serving 13 years as AT&T’s Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, 60, will retire as CEO but will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors until January 2021 to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
The AT&T Inc.* (NYSE:T) Board has elected AT&T President and Chief Operating Officer John Stankey as CEO effective July 1, 2020, and a member of the Board of Directors effective June 1, 2020.
Stankey's selection as AT&T's next CEO completes the final phase of a succession planning process that AT&T's Board began in 2017, which included a thorough evaluation of internal and external candidates. Most recently, the HR Committee — led by AT&T Director Beth Mooney, comprised entirely of independent directors and supported by outside consultants — engaged in an extensive five-month search process to ensure that the company's next CEO possessed the vision, experience, talent and leadership qualities necessary to deliver on AT&T's strategic plans. Those qualities in our new CEO are important for our future and essential during these challenging economic times.
"Leadership succession is one of the Board's most important responsibilities," Mooney said. "After an extensive evaluation, it was clear that John Stankey was the right person to lead AT&T into the future."
Stankey, 57, has served as president and COO since October 2019. He joined AT&T in 1985 and has more than 30 years of accomplished leadership spanning nearly every area of AT&T’s business, from corporate strategy and technology, to operations and media and entertainment. Stankey has served in a variety of roles, including: CEO of WarnerMedia; CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group; Chief Strategy Officer; Chief Technology Officer; CEO of AT&T Operations; and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions.
Stephenson said, “I congratulate John, and I look forward to partnering with him as the leadership team moves forward on our strategic initiatives while navigating the difficult economic and health challenges currently facing our country and the world. John has the right experiences and skills, and the unflinching determination every CEO needs to act on his convictions. He has a terrific leadership team onboard to ensure AT&T remains strong and continues to deliver for customers and shareholders for years to come."
Matt Rose, AT&T’s independent Lead Director, said, “Randall has done an outstanding job as CEO in transforming AT&T into a leader in communications, technology, and media and entertainment. His strong leadership and strategic investments during a period of unprecedented customer demand for mobile communications and premium entertainment have positioned the company extremely well for the years ahead. We look forward to Randall continuing to lead the Board and working with John to ensure a smooth leadership transition."
"I’m honored to be elected the next CEO of AT&T, a company with a rich history and a bright future,” said Stankey. “My thanks go to Randall for his vision and outstanding leadership during a period of tremendous change and investment in the core capabilities needed to position AT&T well for the years ahead. And I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me leading the company during our next chapter of growth and innovation in keeping people connected, informed and entertained. We have a strong company, leading brands and a great employee team, which I’m privileged to lead. I couldn’t be more excited about the new opportunities we have to serve our customers and communities and create value for our shareholders."
Later this year, AT&T’s Board will elect an independent director to chair the Board of Directors when Stephenson retires as executive chairman in January 2021.
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