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Michael Willner To Head Comcast-Charter Venture

Comcast and Charter Communications said today that Michael Willner, the former NCTA chairman who was CEO of Insight Communications before it was sold to Time Warner Cable, will be chief executive officer at "SpinCo," the new cable company being created with systems spun off from Comcast after Comcast completes its merger with Time Warner Cable and system-swap deals with Charter are approved.

The new company will have 2.5 million cable customers in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin, including former Insight territories. It will have a nine-member board of directors, three of whom will be appointed by Charter, including Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, who will be non-executive chairman, the companies said in a release. Comcast will pick three of the remaining six members of the board and will choose three more from a list provided by Charter. These six board members will be independent of both Charter and Comcast, the companies said. Charter also will have a services agreement with SpinCo, "which will help both companies achieve greater scale and regional efficiencies," they said.

“A skilled operator with an impressive track record of success, Michael has been a pillar of leadership and an active ambassador for the Industry,” Rutledge said in the release. “Michael’s expertise, strategic vision, and knowledge from his years at Insight will be invaluable to the customers, employees and shareholders of SpinCo.  Having him on board now – and leading the new business post-transaction – will be extremely advantageous.”

“Michael is an excellent leader and the perfect choice to be at the helm of this new company,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in the release.  “His deep knowledge of the cable business, combined with his experience and focus on technology, will enable him to drive growth and product innovation for customers and position SpinCo as a competitor in the industry.”

“I am excited to assemble and lead a new team of executives who will be exclusively focused on creating a great company with terrific products and excellent customer service,” Willner, who is CEO of software firm Penthera, said in the release. “I am honored to take on this task and look forward to working with Tom and his team at Charter, as well as the strong teams in place within these systems and the other MSOs and suppliers in the industry.”