AOL Time Warner Inc has announced that Steve Case is to step down as chairman effective from the annual shareholders meeting in May.
Case notified CEO Dick Parsons and the board of directors of his decision over the weekend.
Case said his decision to stand aside was in the best interest of the company, which “does not need distractions at this critical time”.
He commented: “Given that some shareholders continue to focus their disappointment with the company’s post-merger performance on me personally, I have concluded that we should take steps now to avoid the possibility of that effort hindering our ability to pull together as a team and focus fully on our businesses.”
Since the completion of its US$106bn merger in 2000, the internet-to-entertainment giant has struggled to live up to the vision outlined by Case, the prime architect of the deal. Its share price has fallen 70pc and AOL is being investigated for allegedly corrupt accounting practices.
AOL Time Warner took a US$54bn charge last year to account for a decline in AOL’s value and is expected to report another multi-billion-dollar write-down later this month for the same reason.
While stepping down as chairman, Case said he would be staying on as a company director and co-chair of its strategy committee. Despite the criticism of his performance as chairman, Case strongly defended his track record and vision.
“Despite the current cynical view on Wall Street, there is growing evidence on main street that consumers increasingly demand more choice, convenience and control from the media they consume. I will continue to advocate a forward-looking view, so that when the environment and our performance improve, our company will be well positioned to benefit from these trends,” he said.
By Brian Skelly