SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 27, 2007 -- Edward E. Whitacre Jr. announced at the company's annual stockholders meeting, held today in San Antonio, that he will retire as chairman of the board and CEO of AT&T effective June 3.
The board of directors has chosen Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T's chief operating officer, to succeed Whitacre as chairman and CEO.
"I have had the extraordinary privilege to lead this company for 17 years, and I leave with complete confidence in the future of our great company," said Whitacre in an AT&T statement. "Randall Stephenson is an exceptional leader. He has a deep understanding of this business and a clear sense of where it should go."
Whitacre, 65, is the longest-serving CEO in the telecommunications industry, and one of the longest-serving in the Fortune 500. He has been chairman and CEO since 1990, when the company was Southwestern Bell, then the smallest of the so-called "Baby Bells." During his tenure, Whitacre led a transformation of the company into the new AT&T, the world's largest communications company, reshaping the telecommunications landscape in the process.
"We have great momentum, a great foundation for growth and an experienced management team with a track record of delivering strong results," said Stephenson. "Our focus will not change. We're dedicated to the same vision, strategy and focus on growing and improving the business, and giving customers great products and services, that have made AT&T a leader in nearly every segment of the industry. We're confident in our direction and our ability to execute for our customers and shareowners."
Stephenson, 47, helped lead AT&T's integration of several major acquisitions over the past few years. Born in Oklahoma City, Stephenson began his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone in 1982 in the information technology organization in Oklahoma. He then progressed through a series of leadership positions in finance, including an international assignment in Mexico City, and in 1996 was named controller for SBC Communications. Stephenson has also served as senior vice president-Performance Assurance and senior vice president-Consumer Marketing.
Before becoming COO, Mr. Stephenson was senior executive vice president and chief financial officer for SBC, during which time the company reduced its net debt from $30 billion to near zero by early 2004, positioning it to make strategic acquisitions of AT&T Wireless, AT&T Corp. and BellSouth. In 2005, he was appointed to the new AT&T's board of directors. Also, he served on the Cingular Wireless board of directors from 2001 to 2006 and as chairman in 2003-2004. He is also a member of the board of directors of Emerson and is vice chairman of the White House's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.
AT&T's 2006 pro forma revenues of $117 billion and market capitalization of approximately $244 billion place it among the top 10 US companies by both measures. In 2006, the company generated total shareholder returns of 53 percent, and thus far in 2007, the stock us up 10 percent.
"We have a well-planned succession process underway, and it will be transparent for our customers, our employees and our investors," said Whitacre.
The company also announced that James D. Ellis,senior executive vice president and general counsel, has announced his retirement and that Wayne Watts, AT&T's senior vice president and associate general counsel, will replace him.
For more information, visit: www.att.com
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