Ross Perot, the billionaire former U.S. presidential candidate
and founder of Perot Systems, has decided to hand over leadership of his
company to son Ross Perot Jr.
Effective immediately, Ross Perot Jr., 41, will assume the role of chief executive officer of Perot Systems, the Dallas-based company said in a statement released late yesterday. Ross Perot Sr. will continue as chairman of the computer services company, working closely with customers and the sales and marketing teams.
Financial analyst Michael Hutchison of Barrington Research Associates said
the news comes at a good time for the company, which has seen business
improve and garnered strong project bookings in its
most recent quarter.
"(Perot) has built a company, to date, with over a billion dollars in
sales," said Hutchison. "He built this company with essentially no
acquisitions and advertising...They've got a good e-commerce initiative
going on at this point to complement their core business. They're in a good
position. He's coming out at a good time."
Hutchison, who recently upgraded the stock to a long-term "buy"
rating, said he expects the company to see improved sales in the near term
despite the recent loss of some large client contracts.
The elder Perot twice ran unsuccessfully for U.S. president as a
third-party candidate, representing the Reform Party, which he founded. Perot ran for president in 1992 as an independent favoring campaign reform and fiscal discipline. He drew 19 percent of the vote, which was widely viewed as helping Bill Clinton defeat incumbent George Bush.
Perot, 70, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, also founded computer
services giant Electronic Data Systems in 1962 and helped grow that company
into a multibillion-dollar business. EDS competes head-to-head against
some of the top-tier giants in the services and consulting industry, such as IBM Global Services, Andersen Consulting and Computer Sciences.
The elder Perot sold his interest in EDS to General Motors for more than
$700 million and founded Perot Systems in 1988. The auto giant is also EDS'
largest customer. Last year, Perot Systems reported $1.15 billion in revenues.
Like other old-line services companies, Perot Systems has been busy
scrambling to find its place in
the new Net economy, as companies race to move their businesses to the Web.
While the company continued to sign traditional outsourcing deals over the
past year with big-name companies such as Nortel Networks and Harvard
Pilgrim Health Care, it also faced heightened competition from smaller
Internet consulting firms that help clients with Web development, strategy and design.
The younger Perot, who most recently worked overseas expanding the
company's Europe and Asia businesses, will remain chairman of Hillwood
Development, a privately held real estate company he founded in 1988.
Hillwood, which will continue to be led by chief executive
Rick Patterson, is well regarded for some of its long-term projects across the
United States and in countries such as Japan, Jordan, the Philippines, Argentina and Ireland.
"Ross has a solid track record of success in all facets of the business
environment, with a strong background in strategy, operations and business
development," the elder Perot said in a statement.
Perot shares closed at $10.88 yesterday, well below their 52-week high of
The Associated Press contributed to this report.