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Company Town : Time Warner Names New President : Promotions: Richard Parsons joins company after turning things around at New York thrift.


Time Warner Inc. on Monday named New York banker and company director Richard Parsons president effective Feb. 1, giving him the job of overseeing financial, legal, communications and administrative functions.

Parsons, 46, is currently chief executive of the New York thrift Dime Bancorp, which is merging with New York's Anchor Savings after a Parsons-led turnaround.

Most observers said they don't see the Parsons appointment directly affecting the heads of Time Warner's operating units, some of whom currently enjoy a great deal of autonomy. Top officers will continue to report directly to Chairman and Chief Executive Gerald M. Levin, who will relinquish the title of president.

Time Warner includes such businesses as the Warner Bros. studio, Warner Music, Time Inc., Warner Books, Home Box Office and the Six Flags theme parks.

"I think it creates a bigger, centralized power base without cutting off the lifeline of the operating heads," Smith Barney analyst Jill S. Krutick said.

Some see Parsons' job as emphasizing corporate financial activities in the wake of the retirement of Chief Financial Officer Bert Wasserman, who is leaving at year's end. Time Warner is loaded with debt stemming from the 1989 merger of Warner Communications and Time Inc.

Along with hiring Parsons, Time Warner promoted financial executive Richard J. Bressler to senior vice president for finance. He will report to Parsons.

In an interview, both Levin and Parsons said Parsons' job will be broader than just financial, involving a wide range of corporate and strategic matters. Levin said he called Parsons a couple of weeks ago to see if he could entice him to join the company. Parsons said the opportunity was too big to pass up.

"Time Warner is the frontier. It's the future," said Parsons, who will continue to serve on Time Warner's board.

The appointment makes Parsons, already one of the top African American executives in the nation, one of the most senior black executives in the entertainment business. Others include Walt Disney Chief Financial Officer Richard Nanula, Motown Records Chief Executive Jheryl Busby and Elektra Entertainment Chairwoman Sylvia Rhone.

Parsons, who chaired New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's transition team, is also one of the nation's most visible black Republicans.

Parsons' appointment follows a major shake-up in one of Time Warner's music operations, though Levin said there is no connection. Last week, Doug Morris gained control of Time Warner's domestic music division in a power struggle with Robert Morgado, the firm's top music executive.

Sources said Val Azzoli, Atlantic Records executive vice president, will succeed Danny Goldberg as head of the label. Goldberg has accepted the job of chairman at Warner Bros. Records. Sources also said Warner is wooing Phil Quartararo, president of Virgin Records America, to join Warner Bros. Records as president.

Correspondent Chuck Philips contributed to this report.

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