Some might see more than coincidence in the resignation of Perot Systems Corp.’s CFO Terry M. Ashwill, 55, just one week before heir-apparent Ross Perot Jr. took over the CEO seat from his father, Ross Sr., at the Dallas-based IT services firm. Replacing Ashwill is Russell Freeman, 36, who was previously corporate controller and has been with the Perot Systems finance team since 1989, according to company press releases.
But watchers think the change had less to do with the changing of the guard than with the company’s rocky financial ride since it went public in February 1999. The company’s stock topped out at 66 shortly after the IPO, driven by then-rampant Internet fever. Since then, the stock has dropped, flirting with 10 in August. In addition, the company announced a second-quarter profit drop of 22 percent, due largely to the loss of one major outsourcing contract and lower revenues from another.
“Terry did a wonderful job of tightening the purse strings,” says Dirk Godsey, senior analyst at Chase H&Q in San Francisco, “and moving the company from where it was spending readily to where it was more tightly controlled. The new regime is focused on growth and profitability and being more Street-centric.”
In fact, one of Freeman’s first tasks was organizing a road show. Freeman declined to comment.
“Overall, I don’t get the sense that the CEO switch was the main factor in Terry’s decision to leave,” says Michael Hutchison, an analyst with Barrington Research, an investment research firm in Chicago.
A Four-Leaf Clover
Robert Shapard, 44, could be Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corp.’s lucky charm. The former CEO of Australian operations at TXU Co. has been named EVP and CFO of the San Antoniobased oil refinery. He replaces H. Pete Smith, who has retired.
It’s a whole new world for John “Jack” Hammerski, 49, the newly appointed CFO of Access Worldwide Communications Inc. Hammerski was promoted from SVP, financial planning and analysis, to finance chief of the Boca Raton, Fla.-based marketing services firm.
Kerri B. Anderson, 43, is in hamburger heaven! Anderson filled the CFO spot (which has been vacant since the April retirement of Frederick R. Reed) at Dublin, Ohio- based Wendy’s International Inc. She joins the hamburger chain from M/I Schottenstein Homes Inc., where she is still a director.
Sharing Air Space
Stan Gadek, previously acting CFO at Atlas Air Inc., has made a permanent landing as SVP of finance and CFO at the AirTran Airways unit of AirTran Holdings Inc. The 48- year-old executive takes over for Robert Fornaro, who will remain as president at the Orlando-based air carrier.
Ulrich Schmidt, 50, VP of finance and business development, also flies into action as the new CFO of B.F. Goodrich Co. Schmidt succeeds Laurence Chapman at the Charlotte, N.C.-based aircraft-products and specialty- chemicals concern. Chapman is leaving to spend more time with his family, but will help with the transition.