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Motorola board in flux

Motorola announces its chief executive will step down as part of an attrition taking place for the company's board.

Motorola (MOT) today announced its chief executive would step down as part of an attrition taking place for the company's board.

Gary L. Tooker, chief executive, will resign from the CEO post effective January 1 and assume the role of chairman. He will replace William Weisz, who will retire from the board.

Motorola requires all its directors to relinquish their board seat once they turn 70 years old. Although some companies allow board members to also serve as chief executives, Motorola does not share such history, analysts said.

"I indicated to the board some time ago that I did not wish to serve as chief executive officer past age 60, which occurs in 1999," said Tooker in a statement. "I suggested that changes in both 1997, upon [Weisz's] retirement, and again in 1999 were not in the best interest of the company."

Christopher Galvin, president and chief operating officer, will succeed Tooker as CEO. The company has recently undergone some tough times. Last month it announced it would further cut its work force and manufacturing operations, due largely to a downturn in its semiconductor business. Competition has also driven down prices and profit margins of its cellular phones, pagers, and other electronic products.

The company said it expected the work-force and manufacturing reductions to affect its fourth-quarter earnings.

Motorola reported a more than 50 percent drop in profits for the third quarter, down to $206 million, compared with a year ago. Its sales also dropped 5 percent in the quarter compared with a year earlier, to $6.5 billion.

"[Galvin's] been with the company for a long time and is viewed as someone who understands the business," said one analyst.

Galvin, 46, has been with the company for the past 24 years. He's served in such positions as general manager of the communications sector's paging division and general manager of Motorola's semiconductor equipment manufacturing subsidiary, Tegal Corporation.

Robert Growney will succeed Galvin as president and chief operating officer.