SAN FRANCISCO— Freescale Semiconductor Inc. Chairman and CEO Rich Beyer plans to step down after the conclusion of a search for a new CEO, Freescale said Thursday (April 19).
Freescale said Beyer informed the company's board of directors that he planned to retire after a successor is identified by the board. Beyer will remain in his current role until a successor is identified, Freescale said. The company did not say how long the search for a new CEO was expected to take, only that it would "likely take some time."
In an interview with EE Times, Beyer said that candidates from within Freescale as well as external candidates would be considered. Asked how long he expected the process to take, Beyer said it was impossible to know for sure, but that he expected the process to take "anywhere from just a couple of months to a little longer than that."
Asked if there was a danger that his pending retirement might be a distraction for Freescale, Beyer said it was his responsibility to make sure that wouldn't happen. He said he sent a memo to Freescale employees Thursday making it clear it would be business as usual during the CEO search.
"I'm not going to let anyone rest on their laurels," Beyer told EE Times. "If I get lackadaisical, that's my fault. I'm not going to. I love this company too much. I have too much invested in it."
When Beyer joined Freescale in March 2008, he committed to leading the company for four to five years, Freescale said. A statement circulated by Freescale said this is "a logical juncture for [Beyer] to depart, given his time and progress against his stated goals."
Upon appointment of the next CEO, Beyer is prepared to serve in any way the board determines would be beneficial to Freescale, Freescale said.
Beyer indicated in the interview that he would help Freescale and the new CEO in any role that the board of directors saw fit. Beyond that, he said, he has no other specific plans for retirement.
"I hope that I can continue to help the company," Beyer said. "I love this company and hope that I can help it for many moons to come."
Forgive me if I am wrong...but I've always wondered about why any corporation announces a retirement of a CEO before it finds a new CEO.
OK. This must be one of those transparency things; but I wonder if an announcement like this could put things in a suspended state to a degree at Freescale.
But more importantly, this tells me the following:
The next Freescale CEO is most likely coming from outside. (Had Beyer already found the guy he liked, he would have spent some time grooming him before this announcement.)
Again, I could be wrong, but this announcement comes as a surprise.
@junko- I just spoke with Rich Beyer, and the motivation for announcing the retirement prior to conducting the search for a replacement is (once he explained it) fairly obvious. Freescale is going to look at internal candidates to replace Beyer, but also at external candidates. Once the firm conducting the CEO search starts calling external candidates, those people would be under no obligation to keep the information confidential. If they talked about the opportunity with someone who for whatever reason was not interested, there is nothing to say that that person or persons wouldn't brag to a few people about being contacted about a CEO job at Freescale. Once that happens, we all know how it goes. The rumor mill starts churning, and because Freescale hasn't been upfront about the situation, speculation begins about the board wanting to replace the CEO for some reason, etc. Not only would this be generally bad, but as a public company, this could land Freescale in hot water in terms of rules around selective disclosure.
It's a lesson that we as journalists can appreciate: it's always better to be upfront and honest and tell it like it is rather than risk the possibility of inaccurate stories based on partial information hitting the front page.
On the next Freescale CEO coming from outside, Beyer made it clear to me that both internal and external candidates are going to be considered.
On this announcement coming as a surprise, I agree 100%.
He does look a lot younger in the picture than his age. At 63, I don't blame him for wanting to retire. I hope I will be in a financial position to do that when I get there. My best to Freescale. Hope all my friends there continue to do well.
Rich Beyer just called me on my mobile. This caught me by surprise. He did so to set the record straight. I am very grateful for his taking time to do so.
The reason why Freescale chose to announce the CEO transition this way had been well explained by Dylan's comments above.
The truth to be told, as Beyer put it, "People don't keep it quiet," once they learn that a CEO of a big chip company is retiring soon.
Even those who may be approached by an executive search firm for the interview, as Beyer (and Dylan) pointed out, are under no obligations to keep it discreet either.
But when I think about the past successions at Intel, IBM or STMicroelectronics, I don't remember covering their hiring an "executive search" part.
While making the effort to expand the search universe (by looking at both internal and external candidates)makes sense and sounds logical, it is a fact that not every company approaches the CEO transition in the similar manner.
"True," said Beyer. If the board has a very short list of candidates, for example, the interview process could become very targeted and it could get done quietly in a very short period of time, Beyer acknoweldged. But of course, there is always a risk of the news getting out and someone short stocks. The approach Freescale has chosen allows the company to speak to enough people and find the best candidate.
That said, Beyer did add the following:
"Look, this is a big job, this is a company with a lot of debt, and this is not a job of the faint of heart.
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