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Compaq taps Kodak for CFO

The company names Jesse Greene as its chief financial officer, filling another critical position that has been vacant since a corporate shakeup last April pushed several top executives out the door.

3 min read
Compaq Computer today tapped an Eastman Kodak executive as its chief financial officer, filling another critical position that has been vacant since the corporate shakeup last April pushed several top executives out the door.

Compaq named Jesse Greene as the CFO and senior vice president. The company's previous CFO, Earl Mason, resigned at the same time as Compaq's chief executive Eckhard Pfeiffer was ousted last year.

To some degree, Greene is moving from a troubled company in one industry to one in another. Greene comes from Kodak--a company whose stock has been slammed over the past year by Wall Street largely on the perception that Kodak is precariously positioned to deal with the surging digital imaging revolution. Kodak's bread-and-butter is analog film sales and processing services. Greene served there as corporate senior vice president and director of business strategy and information technology. He also had a stint as the company's acting CFO.

But some analysts said that Greene cannot be held accountable for the troubles at Kodak and seems like the right person for the job at Compaq.

"This is an excellent hire. (Greene's experience) at Kodak makes him battle tested under fire" said Stephen Dube, an analyst at Wasserstein Perella Securities. "He knows technology, he knows finance, and he has dealt with large companies."

Ironically, Kodak poached a veteran computer industry executive as its CFO. Robert Brust left Unisys, a computer services company, and joined Kodak on Jan. 1.

Greene also steps into his new role at Compaq at a time when the company's trajectory is no longer viewed as a downward spiral.

"Compaq has a long way to go, but it has begun its comeback," said Richard Chu, an analyst at SG Cowen Securities. "The business is no longer careening out of control, albeit it is still very early in its turnaround."

Compaq has slowly been filling key executive positions since heads were sent rolling last spring. Since that time, Compaq has picked Robert V. Napier as its chief information officer and Michael Capellas as its CEO.

In an internal memo, Capellas said that Greene will be taking one of the company's most strategic management positions in time to implement a financial strategy that supports the company's growth strategy.

"This requires a creative person with broad global financial experience, strong organizational development skills and a track record of successfully managing both business strategy and financial issues," wrote Capellas. "It also requires a solid reputation for integrity and a healthy appreciation of the business challenges we face."

Shares of Compaq slipped 44 cents, or 1.68 percent, to $24.56 in morning trading. The stock has traded as high as $35.44 and as low as $18.25 during the past 52 weeks.

Greene will replace Ben Wells, who has been the acting CFO.

Before joining Kodak, Greene spent 23 years at IBM and served in a variety of finance-related capacities.

Greene received a master's degree in business administration from Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a Juris Doctor from Columbia University School of Law. He holds both a bachelor's degree and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from New York University.