In Good Hands
The CFO post at Allstate Corp. is changing hands. John L. Carl was named the new finance chief and SVP at the Northbrook, Ill., insurance giant. He succeeds Thomas J. Wilson, who was recently named president of the Allstate Life Insurance Co. unit. Carl was formerly EVP and CFO of BP Amoco Corp.
The restructuring of Barney’s Inc. is hanging by a thread. CFO Ed Lambert announced he will resign from the New York-based owner of upscale retail stores along with CEO Tom Shull and Paul Jen, vice president of marketing. The three executives are partners at Meridian Ventures Inc., which was hired to complete a turnaround. Barney’s emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January.
Get with the Program
Warren Edwards, SVP of finance at Affiliated Computer Services Inc., learned an important lesson recently: Don’t fire someone because he or she has jury duty. ASC was forced to settle a wrongful-termination suit brought by Jennifer Sutton, who alleged she was fired when she left to serve on a jury. Edwards was also hauled into court by District Judge John M. Marshall and reprimanded, according to reports.
CVS Corp. will refill its soon-to-be-vacant president and COO positions with Charles C. Conaway, who is currently CFO. Conaway will take over for Thomas M. Ryan, who is assuming the post of chairman of the drugstore chain later this month. The firm has launched a search for a new CFO.
Juliet Reising logged into the CFO spot at Mindspring Enterprises Inc., an Atlanta-based Internet service provider. The post has been open since October, when Mike Misikoff stepped down to spend more time with his family. Reising was previously CFO of AvData System Inc., in Atlanta.
An American in London
Michael O’Neill became the latest executive to defect from BankAmerica Corp. since it merged with NationsBank last year. O’Neill, who was CFO of Bank- America before the merger and head of the combined bank’s asset management and investment operations, left to become CEO of Barclays Plc, the UK’s second-biggest bank. His former boss, David A. Coulter, resigned in October from BankAmerica, where he was second in command.
It’s not often that a CFO requests a demotion, yet Anthony R. Leach is moving from CFO of Occidental Petroleum Corp. to VP of finance, “to devote more time to his family and professional interests.” EVP of corporate development Stephen I. Chazen takes over as CFO of the Los Angeles-based company.
Reid Johnson stepped down as SVP and CFO of Venator Group Inc. after the New York-based owner of such retailers as Foot Locker and Champs Sports was downgraded by Standard & Poors’s Ratings Service to a BB credit rating. Venator named Bruce L. Hartman, formerly VP of corporate shared services, to replace him.
The Incredible Hull
Just a few weeks into his new job as CFO of Marvel Enterprises Inc., Robert Hull was called on to help complete a $250 million high-yield bond offering. The move put the finishing touches on Marvel’s emergence from two years of a bitter bankruptcy, and financiers Ronald Perelman and Carl Icahn, who at times owned controlling interests in Marvel, are now out of the picture. Now, says Hull, with a top management team, plenty of cash, and no more legal squabbles, Marvel is poised for growth. “Not only are we alive and healthy, there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage our intellectual property,” says Hull. “The Marvel brand and character library is one of the most valuable assets in the entertainment industry.”
Marvel, which was rescued from bankruptcy through a $238 million reorganization plan by Toy Biz Inc., wants to follow in the footsteps of media empires like The Walt Disney Corp., and “put its library of characters and stories to work for it,” says Hull. It owns the rights to more than 3,500 super heroes and comic-book characters, including Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk. “Until now, Spiderman was caught in a web of litigation,” says Hull. In fact, Marvel recently announced plans to launch a Spiderman live-action film with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Hull is no stranger to turnaround situations. He was most recently VP and CFO of Wise Foods Holdings Inc., which was part of the troubled Borden conglomerate purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
It’s not every day an analyst becomes the CFO of a company he once covered. But Jack A. Modzelewski, 51, a former Institutional Investor all-star analyst with PaineWebber Inc., says he’s going to the other side to help a company grow, instead of watching from the sidelines. Oh yes, and he’s tasting a little of his own medicine.
Modzelewski joined Viad Corp., a $2.5 billion, Phoenix-based firm that specializes in airline catering, convention, and payment services. Viad spun off Dial Corp. in 1996, and Modzelewski got to know both companies as an analyst of the multi-industry sector. “I was very good to Viad, but not as kind to Dial,” he says.
Now, that somewhat-insensitive manner most analysts have mastered is coming back to haunt him. “I’ve got so many people calling me up and giving me the lines I gave them,” he says with a laugh.
Analysts do move into the CFO role on rare occasions, notes John C. Wilson, a managing director of executive search firm Korn/Ferry International’s CFO practice. “An analyst turned CFO will be very well regarded by the outside world, and especially the Street,” he says.
Modzelewski also believes his Wall Street experience will be an advantage. “I think people don’t understand that the Street looks at things very broadly,” he says. “You don’t have to get into 19,000 iterations of data. Most CFOs get too tied up in the numbers. You’ve got to do everything so it can be understood in 10 seconds.”
The experience has also given him a broad perspective. As an analyst, he says, “you get to see every kind of company, every type of management style, but in the end, you’re observing the system, you’re just commenting.”
Modzelewski says he made the decision to join Viad because of the growth potential and the approach of CEO Robert Bohannon. And he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. “We have a clean slate to grow this company as large as we can,” he says.