Case To Step Down From AOL TW

AOL Time Warner's Steve Case will step down as chairman at the media company's annual shareholder meeting in May. Hailed as a chief architect of the January 2000 merger of America Online and Time Warn

AOL Time Warner's Steve Case will step down as chairman at the media company's annual shareholder meeting in May. Hailed as a chief architect of the January 2000 merger of America Online and Time Warner, Case in the last year has become a lightning rod for criticism of the deal. AOL Time Warner stock has slid some 60% since the merger was completed in January 2001 as synergies between the combined Internet and traditional media properties initially proved elusive, and the firm missed key growth targets.

In a statement, Case, who will remain a board member, said, "Given that some shareholders continue to focus their disappointment with the company's post-merger performance on me personally, I have concluded that we should take steps now to avoid the possibility of that effort hindering our ability to pull together as a team and focus fully on our businesses."

Case's departure follows that of AOL Time Warner co-COO Bob Pittman last summer and CEO Gerald Levin last May. Of the company's top four executives immediately after the merger, only one remains: Richard Parsons, currently CEO.

Stock in AOL Time Warner was up 2.3% in mid-afternoon trading today to $15.22.