The Wall Street Journal reports the 56-year-old Stankey will serve as president and chief operating officer starting next month. He will continue to serve as the head of WarnerMedia, the unit that houses HBO, the Warner Bros. studio and cable channels like CNN.
He will report to Stephenson and is the front-runner to take over the top job, according to people familiar with the matter. Stankey joined one of AT&T’s predecessors in 1985 and spent most of his career in the telecommunications business.
The promotion comes after Stankey’s main rival for the No. 2 job, AT&T Communications chief John Donovan, said last week that he would retire on Oct. 1. The 58-year-old executive decided to step down when it became clear he wasn’t in line to become chief operating officer under the new regime.
The company on Tuesday promoted Jeff McElfresh, 48, the telecom division’s head of technology and operations, to succeed Donovan. He will oversee the company’s core wireless and telephone businesses, as well as DirecTV, its satellite-TV service. Mr. McElfresh will report to Mr. Stankey, as will the WarnerMedia unit and Brian Lesser, CEO of Xandr, the company’s digital advertising business.