July 25 (Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc's longtimechief executive and chairman, Glenn Britt, will step down at theend of the year and be replaced by Robert Marcus, the company'ssecond in command.
The move was widely expected. Britt, 64, has been CEO since2001. Marcus, 48, will become CEO and will join the company'sboard of directors as chairman starting Jan. 1. He was promotedto chief operating officer and president in 2010. There are noimmediate plans to replace him as president.
Britt said in an interview that he had known Marcus for twodecades and identified him as a successor four or five yearsago.
The executive shuffle comes as just as Time Warner Cable,the second largest U.S. cable provider behind Comcast, with 12million customers, has become an acquisition target for JohnMalone, chairman of Liberty Media Corp.
Malone, whose media holding company has an investment incable provider Charter Communications Inc, made anoffer for the company, but it was rejected because it was notviewed as beneficial to Time Warner Cable shareholders, Reuters previously reported.
Marcus on Thursday declined to comment on Malone orconsolidation.
The change at the top will not minimize Malone's interest inthe company, according to Wunderlich Securities analyst MatthewHarrigan.
"I certainly do not think that it calls off the dogs oninterest from Charter and John Malone," Harrigan said.
Marcus, who earlier in his career was an attorney focused onmergers and acquisitions, said Time Warner Cable's philosophy ondeals will stay the same. Time Warner Cable purchased InsightCommunications, a Midwest cable operator, for $3 billion in2011.
"With the exception of the Insight transaction and somesmaller deals, we've generally concluded that the better valuecreation opportunity was in buying back our own shares," saidMarcus. "The same principles will continue to guide us."
Moffett Research analyst Craig Moffett said Marcus' biggestchallenge will be to navigate through consolidation discussions.
"Wall Street has high regard for Rob Marcus," Moffett said."But Time Warner Cable's stock, at the moment of transition,prices in a relatively high expectation of consolidation withCharter, and that makes his path forward much more complicated."
Time Warner shares are up 21 percent this year.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Moffett said one of Britt's biggest achievements was beingamong the first executives to reposition broadband Internet ascable's primary product.
Marcus said investors should not expect any "fundamentalnear term changes" under his leadership. He wants to "redoubleour focus on keeping the customer at the center of everything wedo" and help remind consumers of the value of the company'sproducts.
Marcus, who once was the company's finance chief, added thathe wants to foster a more performance oriented culture at thecompany and will work hard to increase the "competitive spirit"as the cable industry faces more rivals than ever.
Business services will also be a focus. Marcus wants tochange the perception that cable is just about serving homeswith video and Internet now that business services is thecompany's fastest growing segment, increasing its revenue bydouble digits each quarter.
"What is really the biggest driver of growth of our businessoften gets ignored," he added.