Motorola CEO Zander to resign at end of year

Long-expected move will put President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown in charge beginning January 1.

Correction at 8:15 a.m. PST: Due to an editing error, Motorola's standing in the handset industry was misstated. Motorola is the No. 3 handset maker worldwide.


Embattled Motorola CEO Ed Zander will resign from his post at the end of the year, the company announced Friday.

Greg Brown, Motorola's chief operating officer and president, will take over as the company's CEO. Brown was also appointed to the Motorola board in July.

Zander, who has struggled to right the cell phone maker and successfully fought off a proxy fight with billionaire investor Carl Icahn earlier this year, will continue as board chairman until the end of his term next year.

Ed Zander Motorola

Motorola, the world's No. 3 cell phone maker, was on top of the market at the end of 2006 thanks to robust sales of its Razr handset series. But as the Razr became more widely available and its price dropped, the company failed to offer a strong follow-up, began losing ground to competitors, and lost its No. 2 spot to Samsung.

Motorola said Zander also will continue to serve out his employment contract as a strategic adviser to the CEO through January 5, 2009. In that capacity, he will not be an officer at the company. A former president of Sun Microsystems, Zander was brought in as Motorola CEO in early 2004 to replace Christopher Galvin, the grandson of the company's founder.

Update at 7:55 a.m. PST: "We are exceedingly fortunate to have a leader of Greg's caliber, vision and experience," Zander said in a statement. "He has been an invaluable partner and I am confident he is the right person to be the next CEO of Motorola and lead the company through its multiyear transformation. Next year marks my 40th year in the technology industry. This is the right time for me to move on to the next phase in my life and spend more time with my family."

Greg Brown Motorola

Over the past year, Motorola has faced increasing competition and posted declining sales. Meanwhile, archrival and No. 1 handset maker Nokia has posted rising sales .

Motorola has undergone some management changes since the beginning of the year, when its chief financial officer retired and was replaced on an acting basis by Thomas Meredith, a board member from outside Motorola and the former chief financial officer for Dell.

In March, Brown was promoted to president and chief operating officer at Motorola, after having overseen four businesses areas at the company. Brown, who joined Motorola in 2003, handled the company's $3.9 billion acquisition of Symbol Technologies, the second largest transaction in the company's history.

In July, Motorola took the rather uncommon step in the corporate world of naming Brown to its board of directors. The CEO, and sometimes the chief financial officer, of Fortune 500 companies will sit on the company's board. But the No. 2 executive is not often part of the mix.

 

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