Waste Management Inc. is hoping to clean up its act, the impetus behind recent management changes. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based waste- hauling concern announced the appointment of Donald R. Chappel as EVP and CFO. The firm dumped Earl DeFrates from the CFO role last month, after twice having to lower earnings estimates, causing its shares to plummet. DeFrates, however, remains an employee of the company. Chappel was acting CFO at Waste Management before its merger last year with USA Waste Services Inc.
Life sure is sweet for Mark Q. Huggins. The former CFO of Van Camp Sea Food Co. is assuming the CFO role at Sugar Land, Tex.- based Imperial Sugar Co. Huggins replaces Mary Burke, who plans to pursue business opportunities in her hometown of Chicago.
It’s no longer teatime for Darrell F. Askey. The 43-year-old recently resigned as CFO of Celestial Seasonings Inc. Askey left the Boulder, Colo., tea concern to become EVP of Met-Rx Engineered Nutrition Inc. Celestial has begun a search for his successor.
Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co. is cultivating its corporate office. In an unexpected move, Bernard L. Hardiek left his post as head of Deere’s flagship agriculture-equipment operation. He was succeeded by Robert W. Lane, who served for two years as CFO, before moving to Germany to run operations overseas. Hardiek was considered the front-runner to succeed Hans Becherer as CEO. Lane might now hold that position.
The word is out about Gregory S. Patrick. Patrick was recently named CFO of Snyder Healthcare Services Inc., a division of advertising conglomerate Snyder Communications Inc. He steps into the newly created position at the Bethesda, Md.-based health-care marketing firm from Merck & Co., where he served as a senior executive.
She’s the One
Sandra B. Cochran is beginning a new chapter as president of Books-A-Million Inc., located in Birmingham, Ala. Cochran succeeds Clyde Anderson, who will continue as the book retailer’s CEO. VP and controller Richard S. Wallington has been written in as CFO.
Ed Meyercord, 34, is the newest financial operator at long-distance telephone provider Talk.com Inc. The former VP of marketing and corporate development at the Reston, Va.-based firm replaces George Farley, who is retiring.
Andrew J. Greenebaum is blasting into cyberspace. The former CFO of CD Radio Inc. will be clicking in as the finance chief of Ecompanies, a Los Angelesbased den of Internet companies. Greenebaum, who had been with the satellite-to-car-radio broadcast company since August 1997, says he feels “a great sense of accomplishment” from his two-year stint. The company is searching for his replacement.
FPIC Insurance Group Inc. is insuring some changes in the executive domain. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company has fired two top officers, CFO Robert B. Finch and Steven R. Smith, president of Florida Physicians Insurance Co., an FPIC division. According to company COO John R. Byers, the dismissals came directly from the board, which determined that “new blood” was needed. Steven Coniglio, CFO of a separate FPIC unit, will assume the CFO duties on an interim basis.
Marshall Day, SVP of finance and accounting for Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc., is leaving the nest after 13 years of service. Day, 55, plans to retire next April from the home- improvement company, where he served as CFO until 1998. He will continue to report to current CFO Dennis Carey for an eight-month transition period.
Finally, gfn.com, the gay financial network, has recruited Stephen F. Rossi for its newly created CFO position. Rossi comes to the company from Refco Group Ltd., where he served as SVP. Gfn.com is an online provider of financial and business news to the gay and lesbian community.
———————————————– ——————————— Chapter Two Ascendant? Not Yet.
Henry Silverman’s struggle to recapture the hearts and wallets of investors goes on and on. The chairman and CEO of Parsippany, N.J.- based Cendant Corp., the financially troubled direct marketer and hotel franchiser, has been selling off assets left and right ever since a massive accounting fraud alleged in March of last year slashed the company’s market value in half. But the stock has barely responded to Silverman’s efforts.
Now, some analysts claim that a settlement of shareholder lawsuits filed in the wake of the meltdown may be near, thanks to a decision in a parallel case against the company not to delay criminal proceedings. Would a settlement finally remove the cloud hanging over the company? Maybe. It depends on the size of the deal, how much insurance Cendant has, and how easily it can finance any shortfall in coverage.
When CFO asked in October 1998 how much coverage the company carried, a spokesman said only that it ran to “nine figures.” Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they’ve heard similar estimates, but no specifics. The company dismissed reports that Cendant could have to pay between $3 billion and $6 billion to satisfy plaintiffs, based on the size of shareholder losses and previous settlements in fraud cases. Still, when analysts told the press that the company could easily pay a settlement that high, the reports nudged the stock up only a point, to around $18.
In fact, Silverman may have to do more to get investors to look kindly on Cendant. Despite prospects for a settlement, Donald Cunningham, an analyst for Gilmour & Associates, an investment firm in Tarrytown, N.Y., says Cendant is on its list of companies “that are most likely to decline during the next two to three months.”
Until an actual settlement is announced, expect Silverman to unload still more assets. And if and when a settlement does come, don’t be surprised if he sells whatever is left.
———————————————– ——————————— Lee Surrenders
To Wall Street, the financial success of Mirage Resorts Inc. over the past few years was no mere apparition. It was the work of the strong team of chairman Steve Wynn and CFO Daniel Lee. Lee, a former analyst with a particular knack for spelling out the company’s financial plan to investors, also excelled in such duties as acquiring Las Vegas Strip real estate.
So when Lee abruptly resigned on September 7, the stock took a predictable hit, briefly slipping below $12 for the first time in a year. Lee said only that he wanted to pursue personal business opportunities.
Analysts see darker reasons for Lee’s departure. In the wake of disappointing financial results this year, Mirage stopped reporting numbers for individual properties. “My guess is that Dan felt that his hands were tied by not being able to answer the probing questions of the sell side,” says Marvin Roffman, president of Roffman Miller Associates Inc., in Philadelphia. Roffman assumes that closing the books on the individual properties was a Wynn edict that Lee opposed.
Others familiar with the Wynn-Lee relationship suggest that Lee might have crossed the volatile CEO by challenging costs at the new Bellagio property in Las Vegas–particularly the art masterworks that Wynn personally owns and leases to the luxury hotel and casino for display.
Mirage may miss Lee’s unusual style–he once attended a shareholders meeting of an acquisition target in disguise–but the new CFO is hardly a dullard. Robert H. Baldwin, a former poker world champion and Wynn confidant, is currently president of Bellagio.
———————————————– ——————————— Sweeping Changes
Universal Pictures has a new lead for the corporate office. Frederick Huntsberry stars as CFO of Universal Studios’s film division. Huntsberry, who was previously CFO of Universal Television & Networks Group, succeeds William Sutman, who was promoted to CFO of parent Universal Studios.
The Cookie Man is changing his name to the Medicine Man. RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp.’s SVP and CFO, David B. Rickard, has been named EVP and CFO of CVS Corp., headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I. The top finance position has been vacant since April, when Charles Conway was appointed president and COO of the drugstore chain.
Tom Yip has been named CFO of Echo Bay Mines Ltd. We repeat — Tom Yip has been named CFO of Echo Bay Mines Ltd. Yip has been with Echo since 1983, serving most recently as VP and controller. He takes over for Peter Cheesbrough, who resigned from the Englewood, Colo.-based mining concern.
The top brass at Network Computing Devices Inc. computed that Rudolph G. Morin is the perfect choice for president and CEO. The former CFO succeeds Robert Gilbertson, who will become chairman. Gregory S. Wood will assume CFO responsibilities at the Mountain View, Calif.-based manufacturer of network computer hardware and software.
Stephen F. Hill is the popular choice to carry the workload left behind by former PeopleSoft CFO Alfred J. Castino. The Pleasanton, Calif.- based software firm recently promoted the former VP, business development, to acting CFO. Castino will join online-marketing firm RightPoint Inc.
Bradley Tilden has a cool new job in his sights. The former VP, finance, and controller for Alaska Air Group Inc. takes the financial controls at the Seattle-based airline holding concern on February 12, 2000. Until then, he will continue to report to SVP of finance Harry Lehr, who is expected to retire at that time.
Timothy R. McLevish must look great on paper. The 44-year-old VP, finance, and treasur-er at Dayton-based Mead Corp. will be appointed CFO on December 1. McLevish succeeds William Graber, who is retiring from the paper-product maker.
Sticking Close to Home
Hasbro EVP and CFO John T. O’Neill is definitely a winner at the game of life. The 12-year veteran of the toy and game manufacturer, headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I., is retiring after a celebrated career so he can spend more time with his family. EVP of global operations Alfred Verrecchia will take on the additional role of CFO.
———————————————– ——————————— Management Changes
Landing in Amazon’s Jungle
There are few finance jobs more visible or more demanding than being CFO of Internet bellwether Amazon.com Inc. So when former CFO Joy Covey moved into a newly created slot as VP of strategy, Amazon began casting about to fill her high-profile shoes. Some 21 weeks later, Amazon landed Delta Air Lines CFO Warren Jenson.
What’s the connection between running finance at an asset-intensive airline and the Internet? Jenson, before joining Delta in March 1998, was the CFO of NBC, a division of General Electric Co., where he played a role in the creation of MSNBC, the cable and Internet news venture with Microsoft Corp. Even at Delta, Jenson, 42, capitalized on the Internet by arranging a deal with Priceline.com to provide excess tickets to the online shopping service, and getting stock on the cheap in return. Delta’s stake is now worth about $1 billion.
Jenson’s brief tenure at Delta was marred by a highly publicized incident, when his kids bumped some first-class ticket-holders into coach and delayed a flight. But Jenson, who could not be reached before our deadline, is clearly not on the run. The Amazon job “is one of those rare opportunities–once in a generation–to play in a field where history will be made,” he said in a statement.
Jenson’s job at Amazon will be to provide investors with Amazon’s path to profitability, says Genni Combes, a senior analyst at Hambrecht & Quist LLC. “Equally important is return on assets and cash-flow metrics,” says Combes. Jenson, she says, “is going to have to continue communicating constantly.”