Charter hires ex-Cablevision exec Rutledge as CEO

Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) has hired former Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) COO Tom Rutledge as its chief executive, taking the helm of a cable company that's aggressively transitioning its business in an attempt to return to profitability.

Tom Rutledge

       Tom Rutledge

Rutledge, whose sudden resignation four days ago set off a whirl of conjecture about his next landing place--including rumors that he was headed for the St. Louis-based MVPD-- replaces Mike Lovett who in October announced his resignation. He'll join Charter immediately and step into the new role Feb. 13; he also will become a member of the board. Lovett will stay on to assist in the transition.

Rutledge takes over a rebuilding effort at Charter, which went into bankruptcy protection in March 2009, facing $21 billion in debt. It emerged from bankruptcy later that year, having cleared some $8 billion in debt. Since that time, the No. 4 cable operator--it has 4.9 million subscribers--has reported a net profit in just one quarter; it reported $237 million in losses last year and $217 million in losses for the first half of this year.

Still, the company has made some gains of late, focusing on building its high-margin broadband business and upgrading its systems.

Rutledge has a track record of success, helping to grow Cablevision's subscriber base in the New York Tri-state area. The 34-year veteran of the cable industry joined Cablevision in 2004.

His background, said Charter board chair Eric Zinterhofer, combines "operational expertise and strategic vision."

Rutledge will earn a $2 million base salary. Charter's stock was up on the news of his appointment.

"Charter is an outstanding company with great people, products, assets and growth opportunities," Rutledge said in a statement. "I am honored to have been chosen for this role and look forward to working with the Charter team to provide superior products and services to our customers, create an exciting work environment for our employees and build continued value for our shareholders. I have great respect for what Mike has achieved with the company and appreciate his commitment to ensuring a smooth transition."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Bloomberg article

Related articles:
Cablevision ‘bombshell': COO Rutledge abruptly resigns
Charter Communicatons CEO Lovett stepping down