Time Warner CEO Bewkes takes personal approach with video to staff

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes' video to staffers about why he rejected a $76 billion takeover bid from 21st Century Fox was personal and impactful, said Paul Vosloo, SVP, partner, and employee engagement lead at FleishmanHillard.

NEW YORK: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ video to staffers about why he rejected a $76 billion takeover bid from 21st Century Fox was personal and impactful, said Paul Vosloo, SVP, partner, and employee engagement lead at FleishmanHillard.

Normally in these situations, boards and CEOs are very focused on shareholders, and they tend to "forget" about employees, said Vosloo.

He added that video is much more "engaging and authentic" than a letter.

The takeover bid from 21st Century Fox comes after Time Warner struck a $45.2 billion deal to be acquired by Comcast earlier this year.  

"One of the key problems [Time Warner] is going to face right now is employees being distracted by [the takeover bid] and that is the last thing they need," said Vosloo. "This is a good way to let employees hear directly and quickly from [Bewkes] about why the offer was rejected and what his thinking is instead of rumors."  

Going forward, Bewkes needs to "carry on that cadence," and create a continued dialogue with staffers, potentially harnessing them as advocates for the company by encouraging them to take his message to social media, Vosloo explained.

However, there is always the risk that Bewkes’ strategy to engage employees in continued dialogue regarding Fox’s potential takeover could be a "poison pill," he added. If Fox does end up buying Time Warner, the company could be left with a major "employee issue."

Bewkes begins the clip, which was emailed to staffers internally and posted on Time Warner’s website, by stating he made the video to "speak directly" to staffers regarding the news Wednesday about the company and Fox.

He explains that the bid was rebuffed by the board because Time Warner’s business plans and strategic plan creates "significantly more" value for the company and its shareholders than "any proposal" Fox offers.

Bewkes goes on to talk about the board and senior management team’s "deep commitment" to carrying out Time Warner’s strategy of "investing in the world’s best storytelling, leading the digital transition of our industries, expanding internationally, and building on the efforts already underway to streamline our organization and to increase efficiency across the company."

"The best thing all of us can do is to stay focused on the great work we have been doing," he added.

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