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Time Warner, the world’s largest media company, on Tuesday announced that Miles Gilburne would step down from its board of directors when his term expires in May.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Mr Gilburne, a venture capitalist, praised Time Warner but said that he wanted the opportunity to work more closely with “younger companies” focused on digital technologies.

Mr Gilburne’s departure comes at an awkward time for the company.

It is currently locked in a proxy fight with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who is preparing to nominate his own slate of directors.

If elected, they would presumably push to break the media conglomerate into as many as four separate groups, as Mr Icahn has advocated.

Dick Parsons, Time Warner’s chief executive, has opposed the plan, arguing that the company’s mix of assets – from cable television to book and magazine publishing and the AOL internet business – are more valuable together.

Mr Gilburne worked in corporate development at America Online from 1995 to 1999, and joined its board of directors before its merger with Time Warner in 2001.

He is the second former AOL executive to leave the company in the past three months.

In October, Steve Case, the AOL founder, announced his resignation from the board, citing a desire to work on his healthcare and technology-related venture capital fund.

Mr Case then shocked Time Warner executives when he publicly backed Mr Icahn’s break-up plan in a Washington Post editorial, and an internet chat.

Mr Gilburne could not be reached yesterday to discuss whether or not he supported the company’s strategy.

In his statement, he struck a collegial tone, saying that during his last months on the board he would “continue to work with Dick Parsons and my fellow board members in our ongoing efforts to deliver value for Time Warner shareholders.”

A Time Warner spokes-person said that no decision had been made as to whether Mr Gilburne would be replaced. His departure will leave the board with 13 members.

The company’s bylaws call for between 12 and 16 directors.

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