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Equifax Chairman, CEO Richard Smith Retiring Effective Immediately

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Less than two weeks after the top security individuals at Equifax "retired" after what may have been the biggest hack in U.S. corporate history, moments ago the company announced that the exodus from the sinking ship continued when company Chairman and CEO, Richard Smith, has also "retired" effective immediately. As such, it remains unclear if anyone at the organization will actually be "fired" for what is gross, and potentially criminal, corporate negligence.

Smith took the helm of Equifax 12 years ago and transformed it from what he once described as a staid, slow-growing credit-reporting company into a data giant.

Smith bought companies with databases that contained information about consumers’ employment histories, salaries and savings while also expanding internationally to places like Australia and India.

The result: by 2016, credit-reporting activities accounted for less than a third of revenues versus about 80% a decade earlier. Equifax’s market value soared to nearly $18 billion, more than quadruple its value when Smith started.

The Board also said it had appointed current Board member, Mark Feidler, to serve as Non-Executive Chairman, while Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., who most recently served as President of Asia Pacific has been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Smith

Commenting on the resignation, the company's non-executive Chairman Mark Fielder said that "the Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident. We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize. We have formed a Special Committee of the Board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken."

It is unclear if Smith's retirement clears him and any others of potential insider stock sales that may have taken place during the time when the company was aware of the data breach, which was only disclosed to the public some three weeks ago.

From the press release:

Equifax Chairman, CEO, Richard Smith Retires; Mark Feidler Named as Chairman; Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr. Named as Interim CEO

The Board of Equifax Inc. today announced that Richard Smith will retire as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, effective September 26, 2017. The Board of Directors appointed current Board member, Mark Feidler, to serve as Non-Executive Chairman. Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., who most recently served as President, Asia Pacific, and is a seven-year veteran of the company, has been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Smith. The Board will undertake a search for a new permanent Chief Executive Officer, considering candidates both from within and outside the company. Mr. Smith has agreed to serve as an unpaid adviser to Equifax to assist in the transition.

Mark Feidler stated, "The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident. We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize. We have formed a Special Committee of the Board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken."

"Our interim CEO, Paulino, is an experienced leader with deep knowledge of our company and the industry. The Board of Directors has absolute confidence in his ability to guide the company through this transition," Feidler continued.

Richard Smith said, "Serving as CEO of Equifax has been an honor, and I'm indebted to the 10,000 Equifax employees who have dedicated their lives to making this a better company.

"The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right. At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward," Smith added.

"On behalf of the Board, I express my appreciation to Rick for his 12 years of leadership," Feidler said. "Equifax is a substantially stronger company than it was 12 years ago. At this time, however, the Board and Rick agree that a change of leadership is in order."

Feidler is a partner and co-founder of MSouth, a private equity investment firm. He has served as an independent director for Equifax since 2007. Feidler served as president and COO of BellSouth Corporation until its merger with AT&T in December 2006. Previously, from 2000 to 2003, Feidler was the COO of Cingular Wireless, commencing upon the formation of Cingular when BellSouth and AT&T (formerly SBC) merged their domestic wireless operations to form Cingular.

Paulino Barros most recently led the company's Asia-Pacific business, which includes the largest acquisition in Equifax's history – Veda, the leading provider of credit information and analysis in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, Barros led the company's U.S. Information Solutions (USIS) business and prior to that led the company's International business unit. Prior to Equifax, Barros founded and served as president of PB&C – Global Investments, LLC and previously served in several executive positions at BellSouth Corporation and AT&T, including president of Global Operations for AT&T. His previous experience includes executive and managerial roles at Motorola, Inc., The NutraSweet Company and Monsanto Company.

Considering the recent stock price performance, Smith's decision is hardly surprising. (EFX just re-opened down 3% following the news)

Meanwhile, the question of how some 143 million Americans will protect their hacked personal data remains unanswered.


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