AT&T's Whitacre to Retire in June
TMCnet Contributing Editor
Edward Whitacre Jr., who led AT&T (News
) Inc.'s expansion to become the largest telecommunications company in America, announced unexpectedly Friday that he will retire as chairman and chief executive in June.
Whitacre announced his retirement from the company on April 27, 2007 at AT&T's annual meeting of shareholders in San Antonio, said AT&T spokeswoman McCall Butler.
Whitacre, 65, also announced at the company's annual meeting that the Board of Directors has elected Chief Operating Officer Randall L. Stephenson, 47, to replace him in both roles on June 3. Stephenson has been the chief operating officer since 2004.
These announcements were made at the company's annual stockholders meeting held today in San Antonio on April 27, 2007.
Expressing satisfaction on Stephenson’s appointment as new CEO, Whitacre said "I have had the extraordinary privilege to lead this company for 17 years, and I leave with complete confidence in the future of our great company."
"Randall Stephenson is an exceptional leader. He has a deep understanding of this business and a clear sense of where it should go."
It may be noted that in 2005, Mr. Stephenson was appointed to the new AT&T's board of directors. Additionally, he served on the Cingular (News
) Wireless board of directors from 2001 to 2006 and as chairman from 2003 to 2004.
Whitacre, 65, is the longest-serving CEO in the telecommunications industry, and one of the longest-serving in the Fortune 500. He has been Chairman and CEO since 1990, when the company was Southwestern Bell, then the smallest of the so-called "Baby Bells." During his tenure, Whitacre led a dramatic transformation of the company into the new AT&T, the world's largest communications company, re-shaping the telecommunications landscape in the process.
Ed Whitacre is an extraordinary leader. His vision, boldness and tireless commitment have helped transform the industry and make AT&T what it is today -- a global leader," commented Stephenson.
"We have great momentum, a great foundation for growth and an experienced management team with a track record of delivering strong results," also said Stephenson. "Our focus will not change. We're dedicated to the same vision, strategy and focus on growing and improving the business, and giving customers great products and services, that have made AT&T a leader in nearly every segment of the industry. We're confident in our direction and our ability to execute for our customers and shareowners."
Today, AT&T is the number one wireless and broadband service provider in the U.S., and is rolling out groundbreaking Internet Protocol-based television service. AT&T also leads in serving small, medium and large business customers, offering service to more than 100 nations
And when the 65-year-old executive steps down, he stands to rank with the corporate elite -- his retirement payout will be among the top pension packages in the country, weighing in at $158.5 million, a leading daily reported.
Pradip Bhatacharya is a contributing writer for TMCnet.
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