Bankruptcy

Delta CFO Shuttles Crosstown to Mirant

Michele Burns will assume lead responsibility for restructuring the bankrupt Atlanta-based energy supplier.
Dave CookApril 16, 2004

M. Michele Burns, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Delta Air Lines Inc., will leave the Atlanta-based carrier on April 30 to assume those same positions at another Atlanta company, energy supplier Mirant Corp.

According to Mirant, Burns will assume lead responsibility for restructuring the bankrupt company. She will report to president and chief executive officer Marce Fuller “and play a key role in enabling Mirant to emerge from Chapter 11,” said Fuller, in a statement.

Mirant’s statement added that Burns stabilized Delta’s finances after September 11; leveraged the No. 3 U.S. airline’s business-unit, technology, and supply-chain strategies to reduce costs by more than $2.5 billion; and led Delta’s business-development activities, including a highly successful partnership with Priceline.com. Delta sold its stake in Priceline.com in 2000, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and netted $1 billion in cash.

Only a day before the announcement that Burns would jet crosstown, however, Delta reported a net loss of $383 million for the first quarter of 2004. That report lengthened the company’s unlucky streak to 13 consecutive quarters in the red.

Delta has had more than its share of turmoil at the top in 2004. Chief executive officer Leo Mullin, who recruited Burns, departed unexpectedly at the start of the year. Current CEO Gerald Grinstein has been criticized by unions for his high compensation, according to Reuters, which added that Delta is in the midst of negotiations with the pilots’ union. And earlier this month Fred Reid, the former president and chief operating officer, left to take a position with Virgin Group, which is launching a low-cost domestic U.S. start-up, reported the wire service.

In a statement, Grinstein said that he would announce a replacement for Burns soon.