Philip Morris CEO Plans to Retire
NEW YORK (AP) - Philip Morris Cos. Inc.'s chairman and chief executive Geoffrey C. Bible plans to step down next August when he reaches the tobacco and food company's mandatory retirement age of 65.
Bible has been chief executive of the company that makes Marlboro cigarettes, Kraft cheese and Miller beer since 1994 and chairman since 1995.
The company has not yet designated a successor, but spokesman Timothy Kellogg said Thursday a ``succession process'' was underway to select one.
Philip Morris' announcement, made late Wednesday, came as the company disclosed that chief operating officer William H. Webb, 61, had been elected to the additional post of vice chairman.
The company said Webb would also join the board of directors and assist Bible and the board in ``the orderly transition of management prior to August 2002'' when both Bible and Webb will retire.
During Bible's tenure, Philip Morris faced a barrage of health claims related to cigarette smoking and agreed along with other major tobacco companies to pay more than $240 billion over 25 years in exchange for the settlement of states' claims for costs incurred in treating sick smokers.
Earlier this year, Philip Morris sold stock in its Kraft Foods business, now the nation's largest, in an initial public offering. It still owns an 84 percent stake in Kraft.
In trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites), Philip Morris rose 71 cents to close at $47.94 a share.