THERE is a hawk in Central Park that sometimes dismembers its prey on the balcony outside Jeff Bewkes’s office. Guts are splattered around in the kind of Darwinian spectacle that any self-respecting media baron should appreciate as he plots plans for future world domination. Mr Bewkes, however, only manages a laconic shrug when he mentions the feathered predator.
The boss of Time Warner is an anti-mogul in more ways than one. In an industry long-dominated by imperious tycoons intent on amassing power—think of Rupert Murdoch, or Viacom’s Sumner Redstone in his heyday—Mr Bewkes has shrunk a content empire, not expanded it. He is about to sell it to AT&T for $109bn in the fifth-biggest takeover of all time. If the deal goes through shareholders will have made a 341% return during his tenure (including spin-offs and dividends), making Time Warner one of the best-performing big firms in America during that time.
Beneath his laid-back surfer persona, Mr Bewkes has been ruthless but in the rational pursuit of his owners’ interests, not his own vanity. His tenure can be split into three parts—culling, defending and preparing to exit on a high.
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