- Push-out Score determined
- After less than two years in the position
- Praise and thanks for Willard
- Billy Gifford taking over
(exechange) — Richmond, Virginia, April 17, 2020 — Howard Willard, chief executive of Altria, leaves. As announced by Altria Group Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Friday, April 17, 2020, Howard A. Willard has left his post as chief executive officer at the Marlboro cigarette maker after less than two years in the role, effective April 14, 2020.
Howard Willard’s duties as CEO will be taken over by William F. (Billy) Gifford, most recently Chief Financial Officer of Altria Group Inc.
Willard had temporarily stepped aside in March as CEO after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
“Collaborative leadership style, strategic mindset and deep financial and industry expertise”
Altria did not give an explicit reason for Howard Willard’s departure from the CEO post. Thomas Farrell, newly appointed independent Chairman of the Board, said: “Our election of Billy as the next CEO reflects the Board’s belief that his collaborative leadership style, strategic mindset and deep financial and industry expertise are right to lead Altria towards that future.”
Precise information regarding Howard Willard’s future plans was not immediately available.
Altria said: “Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (NYSE: MO) today announced Howard Willard’s retirement as Chairman of the Board of Directors (Chairman) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Altria, effective April 14, 2020. Mr. Willard, who was recovering from COVID-19, decided to step down following 28 years of distinguished service to Altria and its subsidiaries.”
Altria further said: “On April 14, 2020, Howard A. Willard III informed the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Altria Group, Inc. (the “Company”) of his decision to retire as a director of the Company and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer after 28 years of distinguished service to the Company and its subsidiaries, effective on April 14, 2020. Accordingly, Mr. Willard also will not stand for reelection to the Board at the Company’s 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.”
Share price decline
The announcement follows a decline in Altria Group Inc.’s share price of 27% since May 2018.
In the position of CEO since 2018
Howard Willard became CEO of the Company in 2018.
Prior to his election as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer effective May 17, 2018, Willard served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since March 2015.
He previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from January 2011 through February 2015.
Since joining the Altria family of companies in 1992, Willard has held numerous other senior leadership roles.
Push-out Score determined
The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the pressure surrounding the management change on a scale of 0 to 10.
Read the full story in the exechange report 16.2020 ($).