Verizon co-CEO Lee to Leave Early

By @NY Staff

Verizon Communications is speeding up its chief executive transition to the first of April, allowing Ivan Seidenberg to take over the sole position as CEO, a title he has been sharing with current co-CEO Charles R. Lee.

The move puts Seidenberg into the slot three months ahead of the plan that the company announced when the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE created the New York-based Verizon.

Lee, 62, is the former chairman and CEO of GTE, and was instrumental in the 2000 merger of GTE with Bell Atlantic that created the nation’s largest local phone provider.

“Now that the merger integration is complete and has been so successful, the time is right for us to make this change,” Lee said in a statement.

“Ivan and I have shared a vision in creating this company, and it’s time for one CEO to focus on the long-term strategies and day-to-day execution that will take Verizon to the next level. Ivan is that person,” he said.

The transition timing has the blessing of Verizon’s board of directors, which voted on the schedule this weekend.

Lee said he would formally retire from Verizon on June 30, 2002, as he planned, and move to become a non-executive chairman of the board of directors until June 30, 2004.

Lee began his career at GTE in 1983, where he worked in finance-related positions before he became president, chief operating officer and a director of GTE in December 1988. Prior to GTE, he was with Columbia Pictures from 1980 to 1983 as a senior vice president of finance.

The Pittsburgh native holds a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from Cornell University and a master’s degree with distinction from the Harvard Business School. He is also a member of the Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee to the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.

The 55-year-old Seidenberg had served as chairman and CEO of Bell Atlantic, and as its prior incarnation, NYNEX. He started with the phone company 30 years ago as a cable slicer’s assistant and worked his way up through the ranks of the telecom industry, holding a number of operations and engineering positions with AT&T and NYNEX.

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