AT&T's Lurie to step down next month

Longtime AT&T executive Glenn Lurie will retire Sept. 1.

Glenn Lurie will step down from his role as president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations next month as the carrier prepares to integrate its business with Time Warner.

The Wall Street Journal was among the first to report the news, saying AT&T announced Lurie’s retirement in an email Tuesday. AT&T apparently hasn’t made a formal statement but confirmed the move to FierceWireless.

The carrier said it had no comment on why Lurie is leaving or what his plans may be. Lurie, 51, entered the wireless industry in the 1990s selling phones in Portland, Oregon, after a brief career as a professional soccer player. He worked his way up at AT&T and gained prestige by negotiating with Apple to bring the iPhone to the carrier in an exclusive deal.

The timing of the news of Lurie’s impending departure is noteworthy, to be sure. AT&T announced a major restructuring last Friday that named John Donovan as CEO of AT&T Communications, helming the carrier’s traditional phone business as well as its DirecTV offering. Donovan’s new purview will include its Business Solutions, Entertainment Group, and Technology & Operations Groups.

John Stankey, who has worked at AT&T for three decades, now leads the team integrating the two companies and “will work closely” with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes “for a smooth leadership transition,” AT&T said. Stankey, who previously headed AT&T’s Entertainment Group, was named CEO of the media company once the merger is complete. Meanwhile, Global Marketing Officer Lori Lee expands her responsibilities to oversee AT&T’s international operations.

Donovan, Stankey and Lee all continue to report to Randall Stephenson, who remains in place as AT&T’s chairman and CEO. Those changes took effect today; Lurie will step down September 1.

Stankey was named CEO of AT&T’s entertainment group in February 2016, taking the reins of the company’s mobile division as well as its DirecTV, internet and TV businesses. Lurie remained CEO of AT&T’s consumer mobility business at the time, reporting to Stankey.

AT&T is clearly moving aggressively to shuffle its front office as it expands beyond traditional telecom offerings into the much broader world of digital media and advertising. Bloomberg described the restructuring as “one of the largest at AT&T since ‘Ma Bell’ was broken apart” by U.S. regulators 33 years ago, creating seven regional “Baby Bells.”