Time Warner (TW) chief operating officer Jeffrey Bewkes has been designated to succeed Richard Parsons as TW CEO effective on January 1, sources at the company confirmed on Monday. Parsons, who took the helm in 2002, had been tasked with returning TW to profitability in the wake of the media giant’s 2001 merger with America Online (AOL). At the time of Parson’s accession, the finances of the combined company were reeling as a result of the dot com implosion and as a consequence of Justice Department and SEC probes into issues surrounding the merger. Since then, Parsons has worked to stabilize TW by reducing the company’s debt and by settling lawsuits stemming from the 2001 merger. Bewkes, who rose to the rank of TW COO in late 2005, served for three years as the chairman of TW’s entertainment and networks group. Bewkes also spent more than 15 years as chief financial officer at TW-owned HBO and is credited with expanding the popular cable channel into a network that includes such diverse offerings as HBO Family, HBO Signature, and HBO Comedy. Praising his successor, Parsons observed that, “throughout his career, [Bewkes] has demonstrated the capacity to generate industry-leading performances at our businesses, whether measured in terms of financial, operational or creative successes.” Parsons is also expected to continue in his present role as TW chairman.