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Altria CEO to retire

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Tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. announced Friday that Chairman and CEO Michael Szymanczyk will retire in May after working 23 years for the company.

Vice Chairman Martin J. Barrington, 58, will become chairman and CEO of the Richmond-based company, while David R. Beran, 57, currently the Altria’s vice chairman for business operations, will serve as Altria’s president and chief operating officer.

Syzmanczyk will retire May 17 but retain a consulting agreement with the company for an initial period ending Jan. 31.

Syzmanczyk, 63, spent four years as chairman and CEO of Altria and 12 years as president and CEO of Philip Morris USA. Syzmanczyk was named to lead the company after Philip Morris International and Kraft were spun off from the company.

“I believe the company is well positioned to continue to prosper,” Szymanczyk said in a statement. “As I near retirement, now is the time to transition leadership to people of an age to guide the company through its next phase of growth.”

Thomas Farrell, the presiding director of Altria’s Board of Directors, said that Barrington’s selection to succeed Szymanczyk was part of a systematic succession planning process.

Barrington has worked for Altria since 1993. As vice chairman, he’s been responsible for innovation, public affairs, human resources, compliance and product responsibilities. He is also the company’s chief compliance officer. His previous roles include executive vice president and chief compliance and administrative officer for Altria and general counsel and senior vice president for both Philip Morris International and Philip Morris USA.

Beran has worked for the company since 1976. His previous executive roles at the company include executive vice president and CFO for Altria; executive vice president and CFO for Philip Morris USA and executive vice president of finance, planning and information for Philip Morris USA.

Altria reported that its fourth-quarter earnings were down 6.8 percent per diluted share because of special items and charges related to tobacco and health judgments. For more information, see Virginia Business report on Altria’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Note: Read the Virginia Business interview with Szymanczyk from its June 2010 issue.


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