Bell Atlantic Chairman Ray Smith To Leave Company, Announces Future Plans
CEO Ivan Seidenberg Elected Chairman, Effective Dec. 31
October 28, 1998
NEW YORK -- Raymond W. Smith, the ranking executive at Bell
Atlantic Corp. (NYSE:BEL) for nearly a decade, has announced plans to
leave the company at the end of the year and become chairman of New
York-based Rothschild North America, Inc.
Acting on Smith's recommendation, the Bell Atlantic Board of Directors
voted late yesterday to elect Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg as
chairman, effective Dec. 31.
This is the culmination of a succession plan announced in April 1996,
when Bell Atlantic and NYNEX first stated their intention to merge.
Smith had announced at Bell Atlantic's annual meeting this past May that
he would be retiring from the company and that the Board had acted on his
recommendation to accelerate Seidenberg's succession as CEO, effective
June 1, 1998.
"As I close one chapter of my life and begin another, I look ahead with
optimism and excitement," Smith said. "I have great affection for the
employees of Bell Atlantic, and I admire their many accomplishments
over the past decade. I know that with Ivan leading the way the company
will continue to be one of the world's great success stories. For myself, I
have an exciting, new professional challenge ahead with Rothschild."
Said Seidenberg, "Ray Smith's vision made this company what it is today.
He was the first CEO of a Baby Bell to realize the explosive business and
social potential of the digital age. He saw the power of interactivity before
the technology for it even existed, and he saw how it could change lives
long before anyone had heard of the World Wide Web."
"As a result," Seidenberg added, "we have progressed further and faster
than our competitors, and further and faster in the previous decade than we
had in the previous century. During Ray's chairmanship, Bell Atlantic has
changed in every fundamental way -- from analog to digital, from local to
global, from reactive to pro-active. The one sure way for us to continue to
succeed in the future is to continue to build on Ray's vision."
Since becoming chairman and CEO in 1989, Smith led Bell Atlantic to the
forefront of the new communications and information industry,
transforming Bell Atlantic from a regional telephone operation into the
largest company of its kind in the world. Bell Atlantic completed its
merger with NYNEX in August 1997 and this year announced its intention
to merge with GTE.
Under Smith's leadership, Bell Atlantic became the industry's
technological leader in its core business, building the nation's most
advanced digital network and providing the highest level of efficiency and
reliability. During Smith's tenure, Bell Atlantic has also become one of
the world's premier wireless companies, completing more than 30
acquisitions and joint ventures, and the company has expanded globally,
making investments and forming partnerships in 23 countries around the
Smith joined Bell Atlantic in 1984 when the company was divested from
AT&T. Prior to that he served in positions of increasing responsibility at
AT&T, including director of Budget and Finance, operating vice president
and CEO of Bell of Pennsylvania. In 1985 he was appointed vice
chairman and chief financial officer of the newly formed Bell Atlantic. In
1988 he became president and chief operating officer.
Long a supporter of civil rights and an outspoken activist on cyberhate
issues, Smith was the first recipient of the Mickey Leland Award for
Diversity in Telecommunications. Earlier this year, he was honored by the
NAACP for life-long service to equal opportunity.
Seidenberg began his communications career more than 30 years ago.
Before the merger with Bell Atlantic, he was chairman and CEO of
NYNEX, where he had previously held a variety of leadership positions,
including: vice chairman - NYNEX, responsible for the
Telecommunications Group; president of NYNEX Worldwide Information
and Cellular Service Group; and vice president of Government Affairs in
Under Seidenberg's leadership, NYNEX achieved a turnaround in earnings
performance and service delivery. In the industry, he has long been
known as a catalyst for state and federal regulatory reform.
Serving on the boards of The New York Hall of Science, The National
Urban League and Pace University, Seidenberg has led Bell Atlantic
efforts on long-term educational and community initiatives that focus on
science, technology and electronic access to information.
With 42 million telephone access lines and eight million wireless
customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of
advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless
services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell
Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-
growth global communications markets, with operations and investments
in 23 countries.