Tom Rutledge to Step Down as CEO of Cable Powerhouse Charter

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Tom Rutledge, the CEO who turned Charter Communications from an also-ran cable operator into the second largest in the U.S., will step down at the end of 2018 and be replaced by current president and COO Chris Winfrey. Charter said Tuesday that Rutledge will stay on as executive chairman through the company’s pending deal to acquire New York City-based cable company Bright House Networks, set to close next year. The company said Rutledge will then retire from his executive role in early 2018, but remain an advisor to Charter until 2019.

Image Source- CNBC

Tom Rutledge, the chief executive of Charter Communications, will retire on December 1 after ten years in the position and fifty years in the cable business.

Rutledge, 68, will take on the role of executive chairman until the end of his current tenure in November 2023. Chris Winfrey, the company’s 2010 hire and current Charter Chief Operating Officer, will become the new CEO.

Rutledge orchestrated the bold acquisition of Time Warner Cable, announced in 2015, for close to $79 billion, including debt, transforming Charter from a relatively modest regional cable provider into the No. 2 provider in the United States. At the time, Charter had a market valuation of around $20 billion and had roughly 6 million users.

The acquisition of Time Warner Cable and the $10 billion purchase of Bright House Networks, which were both announced at the same time, virtually tripled both the value and the number of subscribers covered by Charter. Under the Spectrum name, Rutledge combined the company’s broadband internet and TV holdings. Charter’s revenue has expanded by 600% during Rutledge’s leadership, while its customer base has grown by 500%.

Investors have applauded Rutledge’s dedication to become a pureplay cable firm up until last year. From May 2016, when the Time Warner Cable transaction was finalised, until December 2021, Charter consistently added high-speed broadband users, which have extraordinarily high profit margins.

After years of expansion, broadband installations have finally reached a standstill this year. Cable values have fallen as a result. In 2022, charter drops by roughly 44%.

At Eastern Telecom, Rutledge started his cable industry career in 1972 as a technician. While employed at Cablevision and reporting to the then-CEO James Dolan, he developed a reputation as a top-notch cable operator. In 2012, Charter hired him away from Cablevision and promoted him to CEO.

In a statement, Rutledge said, “It has been an honour and a joy to lead Charter and this outstanding team over the past 10 years.” “In my 50 years in this business, I have seen firsthand how technology can transform the world and progress continuously. Today, with ubiquitous connection at the heart of everything we do, our opportunity is bigger than ever.”

Winfrey joined Charter in 2010 as the company’s chief financial officer before becoming COO the following year.

“Charter’s development and success have been largely attributed to Chris’ leadership and ability in both operations and finance,” said Rutledge. “Christopher is the ideal candidate to be our future CEO, having worked closely with him for more than 10 years.”

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