Motorola announced the retirement of chief financial officer David Devonshire amid a shakeup designed to turn around the company’s flagging performance.
Devonshire’s departure may have been hastened by demands from billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn that the struggling technology company boost returns to shareholders. Indeed, Motorola stated that board member Thomas J. Meredith, who will step into Devonshire’s shoes, was named acting CFO, and that Devonshire “will continue with the company to ensure a smooth transition.”
Meredith is co-founder and general partner of Meritage Capital, an investment management firm specializing in funds of hedge funds, and chief executive officer of MFI Capital. He also served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Dell from 1992 to 2000.
The company also named Greg Brown as president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. He had been president of Motorola’s Networks and Enterprise business.
In a separate announcement, Motorola lowered its guidance for the first quarter and the full year due to difficulties at its Mobile Devices business, which now expects an operating loss for the first quarter. The company cited lower overall unit volumes, a difficult pricing environment, particularly for low-tier products, and a limited 3G product portfolio.
Motorola also accelerated the repurchase of $2 billion of stock and increased its existing share repurchase program to $7.5 billion.