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AOL Europe spins executive merry-go-round again

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AOL Europe CEO Carlo d'Asaro Biondo has resigned after less than two months in the job.

His departure rounds off a year of bewildering personnel changes at the top of AOL Europe.

It started the year with Philip Rowley in charge as president. That mantle was handed to Karen Thomson in March, who had been at the helm in the UK.

In May, Europe chief operating officer Stan Laurent refused a newly-created European CEO position over a rumoured row over the direction of the business; AOL was being broken up and realigned as a content and advertising portal. Laurent apparently preferred to leave the firm to carrying out plan.

AOL then gave Karen Thompson the executive responsibilities of the CEO role on top of her presidency.

It transpired Laurent may have made a good call, as Karen Thompson quit eight months after taking the European presidency. At that point AOL France CEO Carlo d'Asaro Biondo was parachuted into the job, which was becoming the hottest potato in the industry.

Now, 43 days after his appointment was announced, he's had enough.

Understandably, AOL's staff are worried. One wrote to The Register: "Oh dear. What a shower, an absolute shower."

Enter AOL International CEO Joe Redling stage left. He aimed to calm fears in an email last night:

I am sorry to announce that Carlo D'Asaro Biondo informed us last week that he has accepted a position with another company, and will be leaving AOL Europe.

I have asked Philip Rowley if he will step back into the position of CEO, and he has agreed. Philip will fulfil this role for an indefinite period, effective immediately. Carlo will report directly to Philip as we work through a transition over the next few months.

I want to take this opportunity to say that I am very encouraged by the work that all of you in AOL Europe are doing in managing the company through this time of change.

Yep, we've come full circle and Philip Rowley has been brought back from his plum role as AOL Europe Chairman to steady the ship. Rowley ran AOL Europe from 2002 with relatively little incident, so is entitled to be mildly annoyed his days of sitting in a big comfy chair and making speeches have been cruelly snatched away.

Carlo weighed in with his own damage-limitation email:

This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, in light of my recent appointment, but I was offered an opportunity that I did not have the courage to refuse. This is entirely a personal decision and has nothing to do with AOL as a company.

If anybody knows what kind of payday required too much "courage" for Carlo to refuse, let us know. As one of our correspondents inside AOL points out: "How long before the Americans impose a Yank CEO on AOL Europe."

The turmoil at AOL is not limited to Europe though. High profile departures in the US followed a privacy screw-up.

Yesterday restructuring Stateside saw 450 staff axed at its Virginia HQ. AOL announced in August that 5,000 were for the chop worldwide.

At time of writing AOL Europe were unavailable for comment. ®

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