Heidi Miller Jumps from Bricks to Clicks

Flapjack Finance

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Flapjack Finance

For Alan S. Unger, finance is a piece of cake. Pancake, that is. Unger is the new VP of finance, treasurer, and CFO of IHOP Corp., headquartered in Glendale, Calif. He replaces former acting CFO and controller Gene A. Scott, who is pursuing other interests. Prior to IHOP, Unger served as CFO and VP of mergers and acquisitions at Four Media Co., an entertainment firm based in Burbank, Calif.

William McManaman has lost his hunger for Dean Foods’s finance. McManaman, resigned as CFO after putting in five years of service for the dairy and specialty-foods processor. He cites “personal reasons.” The Franklin Park, Ill.-based company is searching for his successor.

Covert Operation

Hats off to Harold Covert. The former EVP and CFO of Adobe Systems Inc. has been appointed CFO of Red Hat Inc. Covert, 53, replaces Manoj George at the Research Triangle Park, N.C.- based Linux services and support firm. George assumes the newly created business development position at Red Hat.

There’s a new toy man in town, and his name is Kevin Farr. The 42-year-old former SVP and controller replaces Harry Pearce as CFO of Mattel Inc., based in El Segundo, Calif. Pearce, who was with Mattel for 26 years, retired in March, during a time of unexpected losses at The Learning Co., the toy giant’s educational software unit.

Here’s To Your Health

Trevor Fetter, 40, has no ill will toward Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. The CFO left the nation’s second-largest investor-owned health-care services firm to join Broadlane Inc. as chairman and CEO. Broadlane is a joint venture with electronic commerce firm Ventro Corp. David Dennis, 51, a former investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, fills the vacant spot.

William T. Owens, 41, has made a healthy transition from his role as group SVP and controller to EVP and CFO of Birmingham, Ala.- based HealthSouth Corp. Owens succeeds Michael D. Martin, 39, at the provider of rehabilitation and outpatient-surgery services. Martin was named EVP of HealthSouth Investments, a company division.

Oil Change

Pennzoil­Quaker State Co. has replaced CFO David P. Alderson II, 50, who resigned in November. Thomas P. Kellagher, 43, slid into the position at the Houston-based motor-oil concern. The new finance chief was previously SVP, business development.

Cambridge Technology Partners has a new component for its corporate office. The Cambridge, Mass.-based computer consulting firm has added John Gavin, 44, as CFO. The former CFO of Data General Corp. replaces Arthur M. Toscanini, 56, who resigned in November.

WORKPLACE LITIGATION
Promises, Promises

A promise is not necessarily a promise at iVillage Inc., according to Joanne O’Rourke Hindman, former iVillage CFO, and Steven D. Carter, former iVillage sales and marketing executive. The two are suing the online women’s network for stock options they say they were promised but never received.

Hindman and Carter filed suit in January, alleging the company promised to pay them each 280,000 stock options but didn’t deliver. Hindman says she was fired by CEO Candice Carpenter for voicing concern with the company’s “marginal” and “inappropriate” accounting procedures. Carter says he was fired for refusing to go along with iVillage’s “questionable business practices.”

Robert Goldich, a partner for Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen LLP’s employment litigation practice, says suits like this are becoming more common. “Start-ups are simply not as careful in documenting offers,” he says, adding, “there are large amounts of money at stake, which leads to litigation.”

Goldich says CFOs on the move can protect themselves by getting everything in writing, including what happens to their options if they’re fired without cause. He also suggests bringing a lawyer to contract negotiations, and says that “some start-ups are even willing to reimburse [the prospective employee] for legal fees.”

At press time, both plaintiffs’ attorneys and iVillage de-clined to comment on the status of the case.

The Price Was Right

Heidi Miller is the latest high-profile CFO to jump from bricks to clicks. Miller quit as CFO and EVP of Citigroup, the $76 billion banking giant, to become CFO and senior EVP, strategic planning and administration, at Priceline.com Inc., the $313 million (sales, first nine months 1999) online discounter launched in 1998.

Some observers say the move was the inevitable result of the departure of her former boss, Jamie Dimon, who resigned as Citigroup president shortly after getting the job in May 1998. But Miller says that the speculation is unfounded.

“I’m very close to Jamie,” says Miller, 46, “and I think the world of him, but my leaving had nothing to do with it. [Citigroup co-CEO] Sandy [Weill] has given me lots of opportunities, and it’s been quite a good year.”

Instead, Miller says she is excited to move into the cyberworld, and is “looking forward to having the opportunity to run something and to being closer to the business. In a large organization, you sort of lose a little of that,” she says.

Miller’s leave-taking is just one of a recent rash of high-level defections from Citigroup. Five days after Miller’s announcement, co-CEO John Reed announced his plans to retire in April.

“The market cares about consistency,” says Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Henry McVey. “Analysts view defections of top-level managers as a disruption in that consistency. Investors are looking to make sure Citi delivers on its promises, and the results in the next few quarters will be key to driving that message home.”

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