Manage episode 296670502 series 1039141
In March of 2009, when the economy was still in the clutches of the global financial crisis, Time Warner spun out its subsidiary Time Warner Cable into an independent company.
“As we spun off, we paid a massive dividend to the parent of $18 billion, and our central thought became: ‘How do we survive? How do we survive as a newly public company with lots of debt?’” recalls Christian Lee, who at the time was a Time Warner Cable senior vice president and head of the company’s M&A strategy.
Over the next several years, Lee says, he experienced a fast ride of ups and downs that provided a string of lessons when it came to speaking to debt holders and investors inside ever-changing market conditions.
Fast-forward to 2014, and Lee and Time Warner Cable (TWC) CFO Artie Minson receive a hostile takeover letter from competitor Charter Communications, which made no secret of its intent to replace TWC’s board of directors with its own selections.
“We spent the next two and half years of our collective lives working through our hostile takeover defense—a merger with Comcast,” explains Lee, who adds that ultimately Charter and TWC were able to put together another deal that would secure the sale of TWC.
“In the background of all of this, Artie had gotten introduced to Adam Neuman [WeWork founder], and he said to me, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of going over as COO—you should think about the CFO role,” recalls Lee, who would step into WeWork’s CFO office in 2015.
“I had done a lot of deal work and capital-raising in my career, but my first year as CFO of WeWork was really about building out systems—we didn’t have an accounts receivable or accounts payable system, so I was leaning into things that I had never done before,” reports Lee. He exited that role in 2017 in order to move to Asia, where he would help to launch and manage WeWork’s Asia business, an appointment that helped in part to satisfy his long-term career goal of serving in an executive business development capacity overseas.