At first, it appeared that John Devine, CFO of Ford Motor Co. since 1994, would survive the new regime of Jacques Nasser, who took over as Ford’s CEO in January. Seven top VPs did not. Ultimately, though, Devine’s fate would be the same. Ford announced his September retirement, a surprise to many. According to some reports, Devine left the Dearborn, Mich., automaker to search for a position at the helm of another company. However, speculation soon surfaced about friction between Nasser and Devine.
The company promptly filled the vacancy with 40-year Ford veteran W. Wayne Booker. As vice chairman, Booker had been supervising the transition to new management. While Devine was considered by many to be a finance guy, Booker brings a solid background in finance and operations to the post. He served in various roles, including EVP of international operations and VP of Asia Pacific operations in Tokyo. Operating experience, he says, enables him to “look at finance from both sides–how we are serving [operations] and how they are being served.”
Booker has a tough act to follow. Devine was a favorite of Wall Street, and Ford has maintained a streak of 12 quarters of record earnings. “The key is concentrating on the customer,” says Booker. “We’ll continue to see consistency, clarity, and credibility in how we deal with outside and inside organizations.”
And what does the future hold for the auto industry? Booker says it will continue to see consolidation. “I can’t tell who’ll be left,” he admits. “But I assure you, we will be one of them.”
———————————————– ——————————— Traveling Salesman
A couple of years ago, we applauded John Menzer’s commitment to top-line growth at Wal- Mart Stores Inc. (see “Birth of a Salesman,” June 1997). Now he’s taking the show on the road. Menzer was named president and CEO of international operations at the giant retailer based in Bentonville, Ark. He succeeds Bob L. Martin, who left on the heels of Wal-Mart’s announcement of plans to buy British supermarket chain Asda Group Plc. A new CFO is expected to be named soon.
Marie Toulantis is joining the growing ranks of CFOs making the leap to online businesses. She took over as CFO of Barnesandnoble.com, the Internet seller of books and music, that went public in May. She was CFO of Barnes & Noble Inc., the Web company’s brick-and-mortar counterpart. Toulantis’s duties at Barnes & Noble will be split between Darrell Meussner, VP and finance chief of the company’s retail and distribution divisions, and Michael Archbold, VP and controller.
The CFO of Harnischfeger Industries Inc. was handed his walking papers. Francis M. Corby Jr. left the Milwaukee-based paper-making- and mining-equipment company, along with CEO Jeffery T. Grade, who was also a onetime CFO of Harnischfeger. Former president John Nils Hanson was named CEO, but a new CFO has yet to be chosen. The company, plagued by the Asian financial crisis and slumping commodity prices, has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Trinity I Fund LP, the company’s third-largest shareholder, played a role in calling for the restructuring.
Cognex Corp. sees something it likes in Richard A. Morin. The Natick, Mass.-based maker of machine vision systems named him CFO. He fills a post that was vacated in November with the departure of John Rogers Jr. Morin was formerly CFO of C&K Components Inc.
Iridium LLC is hoping that Leo Mondale can launch the company into the black. He was named CFO of the struggling global satellite phone company. Mondale replaces Roy Grant, who left in March.
Harry Winn decided to put himself on the market. He resigned as CFO of Fleming Cos., an Oklahoma City based food-distribution concern, to pursue other business opportunities. He was succeeded by John T. Standley, who has held several senior financial positions with companies operated by Yucaipa Cos.
American WaterWorks Service Co. welcomed Ellen C. Wolf to the management pipeline. The former VP and treasurer of Bell Atlantic Corp. was named CFO of the Voorhees, N.J.-based water utility. She takes over the finance duties from J. James Barr, who was named president and CEO last year.
Peter D. Hancock vaulted into the CFO position at J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York. He assumed the head finance duties in addition to his role as chairman of the risk-management and capital-management committees at the nation’s fourth-largest bank. Hancock succeeds John A. Mayer Jr., who was named head of J.P. Morgan Capital Corp., the bank’s venture-capital and private-equity investment arm.
In other financial-services news, Eric W. Reckard was named CFO and treasurer of Pioneer Group Inc., a Boston-based investment- management and asset-development concern. He takes over for John A. Boynton, who is leaving after only seven months to start his own consulting practice. He will stay on for an unspecified time to help in the transition. Reckard was formerly VP of corporate finance at Pioneer.
LCC International Inc. sent news over the airwaves that it named David N. Walker to the CFO post. He joins the McLean, Va.-based wireless-telecommunications consulting firm from Marconi North America Inc. Walker was VP and controller of the subsidiary of General Electric Co. Plc, a UK provider of global communications. He succeeds Richard Hozik, who recently left to become CFO of online start-up VarsityBooks.com.
Frank W. Coffey doesn’t expect his new job to be a piece of cake. He was recently named CFO of Interstate Bakeries Corp., based in Kansas City, Mo. He was formerly VP of corporate development at the company. Previously, the chief finance duties were filled by corporate treasurer Paul Yarick, who remains at that post.
Dennis Hernreich is fashioning himself a new job. He left Loehmann’s Inc., a Bronx, N.Y.- based apparel retailer to “pursue other interests.” A successor has yet to be named.
Aftermarket Technology Corp. has a new financial engine. Barry C. Kohn was named CFO of the Westmont, Ill.-based remanufacturer of products used in the automotive aftermarket. Kohn was formerly SVP and CFO of what is now AlliedSignal Aerospace Co.
———————————————– ——————————— Managing Expectations
CFOs always take risks when they refer to specific earnings ranges. So Michael White, CFO of PepsiCo Inc., was already out on a limb when he said that he was comfortable with 1999 earnings estimates of $1.20 to $1.24 a share for the Purchase, N.Y., beverage and snack company. To make matters worse, analysts were already expecting at least $1.24 per share, not including about $70 million to $75 million in costs to consolidate information systems that White unexpectedly revealed to analysts during an April conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings. Some analysts balked at Pepsi’s intent to exclude the charges and treat them as a separate line item.
The upbeat tone of the discussion of a solid first-quarter performance was quickly turning sour. The news sent the stock down $2, and a number of analysts referred to the call as confusing and badly planned. Furthermore, White was asked why he referred to Pepsi’s annual per-share growth target as “low double digit,” when Pepsi chairman and CEO Roger Enrico had already put it in the mid- teens. “As CFO, I get paid to be conservative,” remarked White. While the comment struck an ill chord with analysts, at least one observer agrees with White. “The best CFOs try to be the voice of reason,” says John C. Wilson, a managing director of executive search firm Korn/Ferry International’s CFO practice. “The last thing they want is to have expectations higher than they ought to be,” he says, even if that means contradicting the CEO.
———————————————– ——————————— Aye, Chihuahua!
In recent TV ads, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have been marketing their mascots as a united force against villains from the new Star Wars movie. But there is less unity behind the scenes at Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., the Louisville- based parent of the fast-food chains. Case in point: CFO Robert Lowes’s sudden resignation, reportedly prompted by president and heir- apparent David Novak’s desire for a “new financial partner.”
Lowes, a former CEO of Burger King, was part of the original management team at Tricon, which was spun off from PepsiCo. in 1997. Although Lowes was seen as a capable, no- nonsense CFO, Novak wanted someone with more experience in capital markets, says one analyst, who adds that Lowes was handed a “tough bunch of cards” managing the financials after the spin-off.