It wasn’t a huge surprise to learn of Carl Vogel’s resignation Tues as Charter’s pres/CEO. It was the timing that caught many off-guard. Vogel’s $1mln/yr contract ran through ’05, and most thought he’d serve it out (although he clammed up when we asked him about his future last month at UBS’ confab (Cfax 12/10/04); right after we did, an exec from search firm Korn Ferry sidled up to Vogel, said hello, and whispered in his ear. Coincidence?) Informed speculation has Vogel pushing Paul Allen to renew Vogel’s contract this month. When Allen balked (and as Wall St’s questions about Vogel’s standing increased), Vogel opted to walk. While Vogel has an excellent reputation, Charter has had an awful vibe since the feds started investigating it in ’02. "It was the most dysfunctional place I deal with," an affiliate sales exec says. "The execs in St. Louis didn’t know what the execs in Denver were doing, and vice-a-versa." Look for fallout from Vogel’s departure to continue for several weeks, as much of his team follows him out the door. The MSO’s already had a brain drain, with high profile COO Maggie Bellville and CFO Michael Huseby and CTO Steve Silva departing. — Bashing Allen: The industry rep of the well-liked Vogel is a contrast to that of Allen, who frequently is mocked. "The problem with Paul Allen is that he’s worried about flying a man to Mars," an exec quips referring to Allen’s interest in and funding of space projects. Fulcrum’s Rich Greenfield blames Allen’s unwillingness to deleverage Charter as a key reason for Vogel’s departure. "Charter keeps extending maturities, rather than reducing leverage (whereas sr mgmt, including Vogel, preferred an approach that-while dilutive near-term-would have vastly lowered leverage and improved financial flexibility)," Greenfield said in a note Tues. — Business Problems: Since Vogel took control of the MSO in ’01, Charter never found solid business ground. It was the worst performing MSO stock in ’04, dropping 44%. And it continued to lose basic subs, regardless of what Vogel and his team tried. Even its much ballyhooed, all-digital Long Beach, CA, system posted a flat sub gain in 3Q, CableWORLD reported last month.

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