Mattel no longer playing around

Family Matters

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Family Matters

It’s all in the family at Miami-based United Petroleum Corp. As part of a bankruptcy reorganization, Joe P. Bared, 57, was named chairman and CEO. His son, 31-year-old Carlos Bared, is replacing CFO L. Douglas Keene Jr. Carlos was previously CFO of F.S. Convenience Stores.

Former Browning- Ferris Industries Inc. CFO Jeffrey E. Curtiss, 51, is ready to be of service to Houston-based Service Corp. International. Curtiss succeeds George R. Champagne, who resigned after the funeral-home operator had a streak of disappointing earnings (see “Grapevine,” January).

What’s in the works for Ron B. Lam? The top finance role at Sega Gameworks LLC, that’s what. Formerly CFO of Universal Studios’s Hollywood theme park, Lam has been named CFO and SVP of the Redwood City, Calif.-based restaurant- chain/video-game concern.

Placing Sandra S. Wijnberg in the SVP and CFO slots at Marsh & McLennan Cos., in New York, was a no-risk transaction. Wijnberg, 43, was SVP and treasurer for Tricon Global Restaurants Inc. She succeeds Frank J. Borelli, who is retiring from the risk, insurance services, and investment management firm.

The Sky’s The Limit

Brian Keane is ready to weather the role of CFO at Blue Sky Studios Inc., a Twentieth Century Fox subsidiary in Harrison, N.Y. Keane was previously assistant controller at News America Corp.

There’s been a change in the makeup of Oklahoma City­based Kerr-McGee Corp. John C. Linehan, 60, has retired, and Robert M. Wohleber has assumed his position. Wohleber most recently served as EVP and CFO of McMoRan Exploration Co. and as president and COO of Freeport-McMoRan Sulphur.

Get the Picture?

Eastman Kodak Co., in Rochester, N.Y., saw its stock price rise more than 8 percent when it placed Robert H. Brust in the corporate picture. Brust comes to Kodak from Unisys Corp., where he served as finance chief. He succeeds Jesse J. Greene, who has been acting CFO since the death of Harry L. Kavetas in May 1999.

It’s In The Mail

Pitney Bowes Inc. has put its stamp of approval on Bruce P. Nolop. Nolop succeeds Murray L. Reichenstein as CFO of the Stamford, Conn.-based mail-and-messaging concern. Reichenstein now holds the positions of chief development officer and VP of electronic business.

The folks at Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. think Thomas J. Webb is g-r-r-r-reat! Webb has been asked to fill the CFO spot that has been vacant since John Hinton’s departure early last year. He joins the popular cereal maker from Ford Motor Co., where he served as chief financial information officer.

Do The Microshuffle

Bill Gates wasn’t the only exec to vacate a C- level post at Microsoft Corp. in recent days. Greg Maffei, Microsoft’s CFO since July 1997, resigned in the closing days of the 20th century in order to become CEO of Worldwide Fiber Inc., the telecommunications division of Ledcor Industries Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia. Maffei, 39, earned a reputation as an ace deal-maker during his tenure as CFO, closing more than $12 billion in deals and helping to increase Microsoft’s market capitalization by $450 billion.

“Greg is terrific,” says Michael K. Kwatinetz, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston, “and he is one of the strongest guys I’ve met in terms of how well he did his job. He was ready to move up.”

Maffei had long expressed interest in taking a more senior position at Microsoft, but saw several offers go up in smoke. One was a CEO offer from Road Runner, the cable partnership between Time Warner Inc. and MediaOne Group Inc., but the promotion was vetoed by Bill Gates, a power granted him through Microsoft’s 10 percent ownership of Road Runner.

John Connors, formerly VP of the worldwide enterprise group, is replacing Maffei. Connors, 40, is an 11-year Microsoft veteran who, analysts say, possesses strong financial skills, but may be lacking in the deal department.

“John Connors is very solid,” says Kwatinetz. “Maybe he won’t be the deal guy and they’ll bring other people into that position. Maybe they won’t get the last 5 percent on a couple of deals. Even if they overpay by 5 percent, they’re still strong.

SCAPEGOAT ALERT
Not Toying Around

It’s no longer playtime for Los Angeles­based toy giant Mattel Inc. The company has seen some unexpected losses at The Learning Co., its educational-software unit, which it purchased last year for $3.5 billion. That unit’s chairman and president left in November, and sources say many felt CEO Jill Barad should have been next.

In a new twist, Mattel CFO Harry Pearce has announced he will retire in March. Reportedly, Pearce said he’s proud of his accomplishments at Mattel and is pleased it is well positioned to meet its future strategic goals. Experts, however, speculate that his sudden departure is related to the software unit’s $105 million third-quarter loss. Marina Jacobson, an analyst at The Bear Stearns Cos., says, “I believe [Pearce] has other goals he wants to achieve, combined with the fact that [Mattel is] a troubled company.” She adds that the 26- year veteran did a good job at the manufacturer of Hot Wheels and Barbie toys.

As Mattel searches for Pearce’s successor, it is also taking steps to revamp the ailing Learning Co. The company recently chose former Sega of America Inc. executive Bernard Stolar to head the Mattel Interactive division, which includes the software unit.

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