World of Trouble

CFO out at Providian, facing lawsuit. Also: Siebel System denies rumors of finance chief departure, CMGI's CFO rises to CEO.

>>Yet another one bites the dust…In latest case of CFO toppling at troubled company, Jim Rowe is out as CFO of Providian Financial…True, finance chief has bigger worries — Rowe, two other former Providian execs named in class-action lawsuit charging management with cover up of loan problems at the loan company while they profited from stock sales, AP reports…Three execs sold $22 million of company stock at “artificially inflated prices” as high as $49.30 last year, suit charges…Indeed, on August 6, 2001, Rowe exercised options at $10.71 a share and sold them at $49.30, for proceeds of $385,900.

Providian’s share price fell 16 cents to $4.08 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, the day company announced CFO’s departure, with price at $4.12 in early trading Thursday…Shares traded as high as $61.10 (on May 1) within last year…Company retained headhunter Russell Reynolds to help recruit new finance…Meanwhile, David J. Petrini quit post as vice chairman and agreed to serve as acting CFO…

>>Still, markets love stability in finance honchos…Share price of Siebel Systems dove as much as 10 percent yesterday on rumors that CFO Kenneth Goldman may be walking and that software maker might issue convertible bonds, thereby diluting share prices, according to Reuters…But company spokesperson confirmed for CFO.com that Goldman has no plans to leave San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel…

Siebel Stock fell as low as $28.71 on Wednesday, back up to $30.02 early Wednesday….After company added $510 million in cash and short-term investments in fourth quarter alone, investors wondered why sell convertible bond?…Company had no comment on speculations about the convertible sale, Reuters said…

>>Then there’s the one about the CFO who came in from the bullpen to take over for the tiring CEO…After just seven months on the job George McMillan, finance chief at flagging Internet company CMGI takes over day to day work from David Wetherell, who continues as chairman…Company owns Internet search engine AltaVista…In past year, Andover, Mass.-based CMGI has cut majority-owned firms from 17 to 9 to conserve cash and cut operating losses, Reuters reported…On Tuesday, when CMGI announced McMillan’s move, CMGI shares closed down 5 cents to $1.37…On February 22, 2000, stock closed at $104.75…

McMillan also elected to CMGI board of directors…Previously president, CEO of BMG Direct, unit of Bertelsmann AG, for over four years…Before that was chief operating officer and CFO of Renaissance Solutions, IT and management consulting firm…helped trigger renaissance at Renaissance, where firm grew from 15 members to more than 300 professionals, with McMillan guiding company through three IPOs.

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