Mr Schwartz, who has been at Cox for 35 years, has become the new CEO of the Cox Family Office responsible for shareholder investments.
He steps down as Cox Automotive president but will remain as CEO in a transitional period until Mr Rowley adds that role at the end of the year.
Cox Automotive, which operates in regions including Australia, employs 34,000 people in major global markets.
Its primary aim is to make buying, selling, owning and using cars easier for consumers and operates under brands including Autotrader, Clutch Technologies, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, NextGear Capital, VinSolutions, vAuto and Xtime.
Replacing Mr Rowley as executive vice-president of Cox Business, the commercial arm of Cox Communications, is Keith Holmes.
The company said Mr Rowley has led the transformation of Cox Business into a major growth engine for Cox Communications through operational execution and acquisition.
“He brings deep experience leading through change and disruption in the wireless, cable and telco industries to Cox Automotive, a global company that serves millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealers and others in the industry across five countries,” the company said in a statement.
As president of Cox Automotive, Mr Rowley will immediately begin working with Mr Schwartz to transition duties and oversight of the company with a focus on engaging with dealer customers.
Mr Rowley said it was a “huge honour” to be asked by Mr Schwartz and Cox Enterprises president and CEO Alex Taylor “to lead this incredible business”.
“Cox Automotive is helping the industry make a sharp right turn toward technology and digitisation and I’m ready to listen to our customers and give them innovative solutions for the way forward,” he said.
“I grew up dreaming about fast sportscars, and now I can drive forward the company with the most horsepower in the automotive market.”
Under Mr Holmes’ leadership, the residential sales team found new ways to drive sales and retain customers.
He brings 30 years of experience to the executive vice-president role at Cox Business, including several leadership positions at AT&T prior to joining Cox Communications.
“Keith Holmes has the right mix of creativity and agility to anticipate customer needs, post strong results and grow Cox Business annual revenue,” said Cox Communications president and CEO Pat Esser.
Mr Schwartz will work with the company’s shareholders and bring his business acumen to family investments. He will continue to oversee Cox newspapers in Atlanta and Dayton, Ohio.
Mr Taylor said “Cox is a company that thinks long-term”.
“With Steve and Sandy, we have proven leaders who we can trust and rely on to operate our automotive businesses efficiently, serve our customers in new and innovative ways and identify opportunities for further growth and investment,” he said.
“I trust them both to treat their employees and customers with great integrity. And I’m thrilled Sandy will still be with us thinking through strategy on the family side of the business.”
Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises’ major subsidiaries include Cox Communications and Cox Automotive.
Cox Communications, the largest division of Cox Enterprises, is the biggest private telecommunications company in the US and services six million homes and businesses in 18 states.
Cox Enterprises is also investing in new industries and emerging technologies, with interests in clean technology and healthcare.
The global company has $US21 billion in annual revenues and brands that include Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Cox Homelife.
The family-owned company was founded in 1898 by Ohio Governor James M. Cox.
By Neil Dowling