CFOs Nab the COO Spot

In back-to-back announcements, Bear Stearns and Perot Systems give their finance chiefs the title of chief operating officer.
Stephen TaubAugust 6, 2007

As part of a high-profile shake-up of its management ranks, The Bear Stearns Cos. announced that Samuel L. Molinaro Jr. will take on COO duties along with his current responsibilities as CFO. The investment bank made the announcement on Sunday following the resignation of Warren Spector as president and co-COO.

On the heels of Bear Stearns’ news, Perot Systems revealed that CFO Russell Freeman will take on the COO role starting August 15.

At Bear Stearns, Molinaro will be adding another notch to his 11-year tenure at the firm. In 1996, he was promoted to CFO and named a member of the company’s executive committee six years later. CEO James Cayne praised Molinaro for having “outstanding judgment and leadership skills.”

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Two of Bear Stearns’ hedge funds collapsed earlier this summer, which the firm referenced as the reason for the job changes. Spector had also been an executive committee member and sat on the firm’s board.

In contrast, Perot Systems’ promotion of Freeman to COO did not coincide with an executive’s departure. The company also announced that John Harper, currently vice president and director of corporate development, will become its new chief financial officer, also on August 15.

In his new role, Freeman will head up the IT company’s global business operations and have primary responsibility for executing the company’s business strategy. “Russell is an exceptional business leader who has been an instrumental part of many of the company’s major business accomplishments,” said Perot Systems chairman Ross Perot Jr. “His achievements have extended far beyond financial matters to help shape our strategy and operations.”

Freeman has been with the company for 18 years and had served as CFO since 2000. Before becoming CFO, Freeman spent three years as the company’s controller. During his first seven years with the company, he served as a member of the leadership teams for several of the company’s operating units, where he oversaw financial activities.

In his new role, Harper will oversee the company’s global financial functions, including financial planning, investor relations, mergers and acquisitions, treasury, tax, accounting, and new business pricing. He has been with the company for the past 14 years.