What New Year’s Eve?

CFOs sit out this New Year's Eve

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What New Year’s Eve?

It’s the biggest party ever…but most CFOs are sitting this one out. According to a recent poll of CFO magazine readers, a majority of CFOs either have no plans to do anything on New Year’s Eve 1999, or are content to stay at home with friends and family and let the big millennium bash chug along without them.

More than 68 percent of the 75 survey respondents said they would spend the night at home or didn’t have any plans. And, despite a year’s worth of nearly hysterical predictions of catastrophic computer-system meltdowns that night, only 6.7 percent said they were working on the Eve. However, several CFOs said they’re on call that night, or are planning to check in at the office on New Year’s Day to make sure the Y2K bug didn’t bite.

Then there’s Tony Dema, 53, the CFO of BCH Mechanical Inc., in Largo, Fla., who is working on New Year’s Eve — and happy about it. Dema plays keyboard for a rock band, Simply Amused, scheduled to play a New Year’s Eve gig.

Although they are in the minority, some CFOs, 17.3 percent of those polled, said they will be out there whooping it up with the masses on New Year’s Eve. Several CFOs will be putting on the Ritz at black-tie affairs, while others will ring in the big night with friends at local clubs, community parties, and other special events. A small group, 5.3 percent, are ignoring warnings about traveling during the date change, and are heading out to celebrate on the road, including one CFO who is taking his family on a two-week trip to Costa Rica, and another who will be enjoying a cruise. And, two CFOs are upholding the fine New Year’s Eve tradition of waiting till the last minute to make plans for the biggest bash in history.

———————————————– ——————————— Better Days
Life is looking good for David T. Foy. The former SVP and treasurer of Hartford Life Inc. was recently promoted to CFO of the nation’s third-largest life insurance group, based in Simsbury, Conn.

Detroit-based Ford Motor Co. is revving up its senior management team as part of a company reshuffle. The number-two automaker named group VP Henry D. G. Wallace as CFO, succeeding former interim CFO and current vice chairman W. Wayne Booker. Analysts suspect Wallace’s operational experience will have a positive effect at Ford. The company reassigned 14 executives, effective January 1, 2000.

Attaining the CFO title has always been in the cards for Jeffrey N. Boyer. Boyer has been steadily moving up the ranks at Sears, Roebuck and Co., climbing from VP and controller to CFO. With the credit-card and retail concern since 1996, Boyer, 41, replaces former CFO Julian Day, who was named EVP and COO.

Bottoms Up

It’s absolut outta there for Robert Matschullat. The 51-year-old CFO and vice chairman of Montreal-based Seagram Co. Ltd. is expected to resign by June 30, 2000, to pursue other interests. Universal Pictures co- chairman Brian Mulligan is expected to take over Matschullat’s position at the wine, spirits, and entertainment company in January.

Former VP and treasurer Karen Osar has driven away from Tenneco Inc., and is now CFO at paper-products firm Westvaco Corp., headquartered in New York. She succeeds Helen Murphy, who’s taken the CFO role at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia LLC.

———————————————– ——————————— Brand New Bag
It’s a wrap! Andrew A. Campbell has been named CFO of Pactiv Corp., the Tenneco packaging unit spun off from Tenneco Inc. in November. The 54-year-old finance chief was previously CFO of Foamex International Inc.

Richard Nanula has certainly broadened his horizons. The former CFO of The Walt Disney Co. and president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide just joined Broadband Sports Inc. as CEO. The chief executive says he’s excited about his new role, because it offers him a winning combination of experiences–a variety of companies, sports, and Internet opportunities.

———————————————– ——————————— Scapegoat Alert: No Longer the Maine Man
When IBM announced in October that it had missed third-quarter revenue estimates, and probably fourth-quarter estimates as well, it blamed an unpredicted Y2K-related sales slowdown. It also, some believe, blamed CFO Douglas Maine. Less than two weeks after the earnings announcement, which sent the company’s stock tumbling 16 points in one day, IBM announced that Maine would step down to become general manager of the company’s new telephone sales division, TeleWeb.

Maine, 51, who joined IBM less than two years ago from his job as CFO of MCI Communications, is reportedly happy about the move, and says he’s wanted an operations job ever since he got to Big Blue. However, he will no longer sit on the executive committee, and instead of reporting directly to CEO and chairman Lou Gerstner, he will report to the SVP of IBM’s sales force.

Some analysts are skeptical of IBM’s assertion that Maine himself had requested the transfer weeks before the earnings announcement.

“All I have to say is, he was the CFO of IBM, a spot that was considered the number-two slot there, and now he isn’t,” says Daniel T. Niles, a senior analyst at Robertson Stephens in San Francisco. “This is not something that anyone was expecting. Even people I’ve talked to at IBM were surprised.”

Others, like Salomon Smith Barney analyst John B. Jones Jr., believe the IBM spin. “This was purely a revenue issue that none of us has been able to get a handle on,” he says. “I have a hard time connecting the dots and saying they shot him down because he couldn’t predict the downturn. I would note that Gerstner’s been there six years, and this is the fifth CFO,” referring to new CFO John Joyce, formerly head of IBM Asia sales.

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