Hit the Road
ANC Rental Corp. CEO Michael S. Karsner hit the road as the $3.5 billion (in sales) company, which owns Alamo Rent-a-Car and National Car Rental, announced in early January that fourth-quarter losses would be $45 million to $50 million, triple its prior projections. Karsner, formerly CFO of both AutoNation Inc. and Dole Food Co., had held the position since last August.
How did the finance expert miscalculate the losses so dramatically? The company attributes the skid to weaker-than- expected demand, an oversupply of cars, and price cuts by competitors Hertz Corp. and Avis Group Holdings. “We have a very competitive market right now, perhaps even more so than we had anticipated,” says Cheryl Budd, an ANC spokeswoman. The company is also faced with reorganization costs related to its July spin-off from Auto-Nation, a move that required debt refinancing at higher rates.
Observers point out that ANC has been sputtering during a time of record sales for the industry, but they believe the explanation is reasonable. “I don’t necessarily say this is a Karsner issue. He inherited a company that was in flux,” says Neil Abrams, president of Purchase, N.Y.-based Abrams Consulting Group, an auto-rental-industry consulting firm. “The quarter was relatively soft, and I think there was an overforecast. The question is, is this a one-quarter issue?”
ANC shares crashed to a low of $1.63 on the day of the announcement, down from a high of about $8 in July. Karsner was immediately replaced by ANC chairman and former Alamo owner Michael Egan.
SIMPLY DEVINE LEVINE
John Devine is certainly a man of the road! In December, the 30-year-veteran and former CFO of Ford Motor Co. was named CFO of another automotive titan: General Motors Corp. The 56- year-old executive replaces J. Michael Losh, who retired in September after 36 years with the Detroit-based firm. Most recently, Devine served as chairman and CEO of E-business enterprise Fluid Ventures.
Scott Levine has decided to become a permanent member of the village–iVillage Inc., that is. The New Yorkbased online women’s network promoted Levine from interim finance chief to CFO. He had previously served as the company’s SVP, finance, and chief accounting officer.
IT’S MILLER TIME
Former Priceline.com CFO Heidi Miller has traded plummeting profits for a little insurance. Miller, who left Priceline.com in September just as the company’s stock took a nosedive, has signed on as vice chairman of Marsh Inc., the risk and insurance services subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Cos. It is a newly created position.
Robert Cavanaugh is putting his two cents in at J.C. Penney Inc., headquartered in Plano, Tex. The former chief of finance for Penney’s Eckerd drugstore chain replaces Donald McKay, who retired in December.
AS SEEN ON TV
It appears finance is as easy as ABC for James L. Hedges, who was promoted to SVP and CFO of The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC Television Network. Hedges was previously SVP of finance and planning for ABC’s Entertainment Television Group. He replaces John Wolters, who chose not to remain, because the position is being relocated to the West Coast.
Brian Mulligan, previously CFO of Seagram Co., has become “king of the hill” at News Corp.’s Fox Television unit. Mulligan, who left Seagram in the wake of its merger with Vivendi SA, replaces Chase Carey as CFO. Carey will head up News Corp.’s satellite broadcasting subsidiary, Sky Global Networks.
LOOK WHO’S CLERKING NOW
Perhaps the CFO position was no longer convenient for Ezra Shashoua, who resigned the executive title at 7-Eleven Co. Shashoua becomes CFO at NationsRent Inc., a construction equipment and rental company. Dallas-based 7-Eleven is searching for his successor.
Daniel R. O’Bryant, 43, is putting stock in Pasadena, Calif.-based Avery Dennison Corp., where he has been named CFO. The former VP and general manager of Avery NA’s pressure-sensitive-materials business succeeds Robert
M. Calderoni, who will join Ariba Inc.
Two Of A Kind
The new year brings a pair of new finance chiefs to German software giant SAP AG. Last month, Edward J. Lyons was named CFO of Newtown Square, Pa.-based SAP America. This month, Werner Brandt succeeds retiring CFO Dieter Matheis as top finance executive at the Walldorf, Germany- based parent company.
Surprisingly, neither man hails from the tech arena. Brandt joins SAP from Fresenius Medical Care AG, in Bad Homburg, Germany, and Lyons is a 24-year veteran of Nabisco International. Will two tech novices be able to help SAP through what analysts are predicting will be a tough year for enterprise-software makers? “SAP generally seems to have been on the defensive in the past few years, particularly in the Americas,” says Jam Pickrel, a senior analyst with J.P. Morgan H&Q, but he adds that the company seems well placed to “get back in the game.”
SAP seemed to be doing just that when it surprised analysts in January by announcing better-than-expected results for Q4 2000. Lyons, for one, thinks that bringing new blood to the CFO positions may help SAP keep the momentum rolling. “Technology has higher growth, a faster pace, and is more demanding than general industry sectors,” says Lyons, who helped roll out SAP software while he was CFO at Nabisco. “Sometimes a fresh perspective helps. It’s an exciting opportunity.”